Rotherham families battle to save heart unit

WORRIED Rotherham mums and dads are urging other families to back their fight to keep a lifesaving children's heart unit open.

Yorkshire's only dedicated centre for under-18s, the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit, is due for the axe to save around £500,000.

Young Rotherham heart patients Zander Symms and Joshua Coupe are just two of the children helped by the unit and would face a trek to units in either Newcastle or Livepool if the Leeds unit closes.

They are now calling for Rotherham residents to back them in their bid to collect 250,000 names on a petition against the move, warning that losing the facility would be a blow for everyone.

Joshua, aged 3, suffers from lupus and has had a pacemaker fitted.

His mum Dawn, of Haighmoor Way, Swallownest, said that the Leeds unit had provided a vital service, adding: “The argument is that having expertise more concentrated in certain places will make operations safer but I know I am happy to put my little boy’s life in the hands of the staff at Leeds.

“It will be a huge inconvenience for the families of some kids as they will not be able to go for treatment and go home the same day.

“But on top of that, some children have conditions where they need urgent treatment and it is reassuring that Leeds is not that far away. We’re in danger of losing that.”

Zander’s mum, Cassie, branded the decision “crazy” and said that it would leave many children’s lives in limbo.

Cassie, who lives in Dinnington, said: “I would urge everyone to sign the petition. They can find heart defects later in life—you never know if you or someone you know might need this unit one day.”

A final decision will be made in July about whether to close the unit in the autumn.