‘Bombshell’ for families after court victory

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HORRIFIED parents yesterday expressed dismay over the suspension of child heart surgery in the region which has left them facing renewed uncertainty over their children’s future.

Seven-year-old Ellie Richardson is among youngsters due to undergo major surgery at Leeds General Infirmary next week for complex heart problems.

Many have been campaigning for the unit to remain open and only on Wednesday were celebrating a historic victory in the High Court after a judge ordered NHS chiefs to think again over plans to close the unit.

Her mother Mel, 34, of Hull, said the family did not now know what will happen.

“The NHS say that families are the forefront, well then why is there no helpline for us families who are left without a phone call or any knowledge of what’s happening? The decision to close it is absolutely diabolical.”

Ellie has already had four procedures in Leeds for complex multiple heart problems but now she had told her the operation was not going ahead.

“It could be a life-changing operation for Ellie, and it’s not nice having to tell a seven-year-old child what has just happened,” she said. All we ask for is a bit of courtesy and to be kept in the loop, and not having to find out by the TV or friends calling you.

“We are the most important people in all of this and we have to put our children through this debacle.”

Another youngster affected by the decision is Sienna Singleton, seven, of Doncaster, who faces further surgery in Leeds.

Her mother Kerry, 33, described the decision as a “total disgrace”.

“It has been one step forward and two steps back. The decision to keep the infirmary open last week was fantastic but this is a big bombshell,” she said.

Her daughter first underwent surgery when she was just six weeks old, had 17 hours of surgery five years ago and is now awaiting a further operation.

“She was due back in for the operation imminently but now we don’t know what’s next,” she said.

“Sienna loves the infirmary, she feels safe in there and was looking forward to going in and having the surgery soon.

“But she cried this morning when I told her what had happened.”

Little Isaac Sheard underwent gruelling surgery to repair valves in his heart just four weeks ago.

The five-year-old, who suffers from Down’s syndrome, amazed doctors with his recovery and was back at his home at Ackworth, near Pontefract, just six days afterwards.

His mother Ann-Marie Sheard, 41, said she was in state of “disbelief” when she heard that children’s heart surgery had been suspended.

She said: “For a judge to say that the whole process was flawed and within 24 hours for this to happen leaving parents up in the air is just wrong. Hopefully the outcome of this investigation will show that there’s nothing to hide in Leeds.”

Lyall Cookward, three, was diagnosed with a heart condition before he was born.

His parents Steph Ward and Sharron Cook, who live in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, were shocked by the latest revelations.

Ms Ward said: “We’re just absolutely gobsmacked. We fully believe that the investigation will show there’s nothing wrong with Leeds.

“I imagine that the parents waiting for surgery are absolutely in bits. It beggars belief.”