Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Joy as the Heart Unit That Helped Save Little Evie and Jack WILL Stay Open

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Joy as the Heart Unit That Helped Save Little Evie and Jack WILL Stay Open

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH JUDD and CHRIS HOLE

OVERJOYED parents are celebrating following the saving of the North-east's threatened paediatric heart unit.

It has been announced that the unit at The Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, is to remain open.

And parents of Teesside children who have endured lifesaving heart surgery say they are "over the moon" that services will stay in the region.

Dawn Clasper is mum to two-year-old Evie Grace who has had to overcome numerous open heart operations.

"It's amazing news," said the 40-year-old from Ingleby Barwick.

"For me and my family it's a massive part of our lives.

"For me it's invaluable and it really does make so much of a difference.

"I was really, really worried. If it had gone down south it would tear my family apart."

Tracey Davidson, mum to Jack, three, who will need a heart transplant before he reaches 30, led the call to save The Freeman's children's heart unit in June 2010.

Tracey, 33, from Billingham, said: "I'm absolutely delighted.

"We have been on tenterhooks all week. It's great news for us all."

As previously reported, the children's heart unit at The Freeman was one of 11 centres under a national review, which recommended stopping surgery at four or five.

But yesterday after an eight-hour meeting - the culmination of more than two years of consultation - the North-east unit was named as one of seven centres which will continue to perform its lifesaving work.

The decision came after a review, entitled Safe and Sustainable, said cutting the number of children's heart surgery centres would also cut the number of deaths and complications, with the NHS Specialised Commissioning body claiming some centres didn't have enough surgeons to guarantee a safe, 24/7 service.

The NHS began considering this after several deaths at Oxford's John Radcliffe hospital more than a decade ago. …

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