Sunderland mum braves icy waters for ill daughter

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A BRAVE mum is set to brave the icy North Sea today in aid of her daughter who faces a liver transplant.

Leanne Harvey, 30, is taking to the waters off the Sunderland coast for this year’s Boxing Day Dip, with brother Bob and sister-in-law Karen.

The three are doing it in support of Leanne’s 12-year-old daughter Saffron, who has liver disease and will need a liver transplant.

Leanne, from Red House, Sunderland, said: “I have done the Boxing Day Dip in the past, but this year I wanted to do it for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.

“She thinks we are mad, but if she is feeling well enough, she will run in for a minute with us too.”

Hylton Red House school pupil Saffron was born with a cyst in her liver, which needed an operation to remove. Her gall bladder and part of her bowel were also taken out.

Saffron needs annual hospital check ups and surgeons have told her she will eventually need a liver transplant.

Leanne, who is married to Saffron’s dad Andrew, 32, said: “She was only three weeks old and she had to stay in hospital for three weeks.

“She’s OK now, but when she is not well you can tell that she is not totally healthy.

“She has colds and things for a bit longer, and last year she had chicken pox for six weeks before she got rid of it.”

Leanne, 30, who works for Fusion at Sunderland retail Park, said: “I’ve done the Boxing Day dip once before and I know you can’t really prepare for it, you just need to take a deep breath and run into the freezing cold sea.

“Saffron is delighted I’m doing it. She will be cheering me on with a collection bucket in one hand and a dry towel in the other.

“She thinks we are a bit mad for doing it, but if she is feeling well enough she is going to join us for a minute or two.

“Saffron’s dad isn’t brave enough to do it though, he’s a chicken.”

Leanne added: “Many people don’t realise that children can get liver disease at any age through no fault of their own.

“Children’s Liver Disease Foundation provides information and support as well as funding research and I’m keen to do what I can to help other families like ours.”

The charity’s chief executive, Catherine Arkley, said: “We’re delighted to hear that Leanne has persuaded her family to do this for us.

“We think she’s incredibly brave and hope she enjoys the experience.”

To sponsor Leanne visit

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull