Mum backs campaign to save heart unit

A MUM forced to endure the tragedy of losing her baby daughter is urging other parents to join the fight to save a specialist children’s heart unit.

Margaret Kerswell, of Pegswood, says it is vital that Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital is allowed to continue performing cardiac surgery on children.

The unit is under threat now an NHS review has recommended cutting the number of hospitals nationwide undertaking children’s heart surgery from 11 to six or seven.

The Freeman’s unit would be retained in three of the four options put forward for consultation, but the fourth would see operations moved to Leeds.

Mrs Kerswell says she will be eternally grateful to the unit for giving her 11 days with her daughter Jayne and would hate to see it go.

“It is going to affect all of the north, never mind the north east,” she said.

“It is just an absolutely fabulous unit. It gave me 11 days with my daughter, which I wouldn’t have had.

“The staff are so committed. It is a fantastic set-up.

“It is just scary to think we could lose it. It is heartbreaking that it is in this situation.

“If they stop the operations at the Freeman, children will go there to be stabilised and then transfer to Leeds. If they require further care, they could end up in Birmingham.”

Jayne was born in January 2008 with a serious heart condition and underwent major surgery at the Freeman, but she developed problems with her lungs and liver and died at just 11 days old.

Mrs Kerswell and her husband Andrew have since set up a charity fund in a bid to raise £100,000 for the heart unit.

Since the consultation process started in March, 760 people in the region have had their say.

To give your views, visit before Friday, July 1, or call (0191) 217 2758 for a response form. Alternatively, text HEART to 85001 free of charge.