Patients and location ignored

A DEVASTATED Kirk Deighton mum whose daughter’s life was saved by heart surgeons has told the News of her anguish after learning children’s heart surgery services in Leeds will be lost.

Annette Jackson, 47, who is mum to nine-year-old Katie Jackson, said she is “devastated and baffled” by the decision, which was made in a public meeting in London and attended by hundreds of Yorkshire families last Wednesday.

Children who need life-saving heart operations will now have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for their surgery.

The decision was taken by national NHS bosses after a review concluded Leeds General Infirmary should stop surgery so care could be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards.

Campaigners fighting to keep heart surgery in Leeds had held protests and gathered more than 600,000 signatures on a petition.

Annette said: “We are devastated, it is just awful. It is just so isolating, 350 families will now have to go to a different hospital.

“Katie is devastated too and cried when she saw it on the news.

“All her school friends have been keeping their fingers crossed for the decision.”

Annette, who currently has to use public transport to take Katie to her appointments at the LGI hospital as she suffers from eyesight problems, said she could not understand the decision.

“I am baffled. I don’t understand what happens when at Leeds, when young children need surgery straight away, what will happen? This heart surgery unit saves children’s lives.”

That included nine-year-old Katie’s life, who was saved by surgeons at the Leeds unit when she was just one month old after she needed emergency open heart surgery. The youngster was diagnosed with a complex heart defect three days after birth. Annette however, says she will not give up hope.

“We will appeal and fight on,” she said.