Heart unit closure will split up some families

Theresa Barber and her four-year-old son Luke, who suffers from chronic heart and lung disease,will be affected by the closure of the childrens heart surgery unit at Leeds.

Theresa Barber and her four-year-old son Luke, who suffers from chronic heart and lung disease,will be affected by the closure of the childrens heart surgery unit at Leeds.

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A MUM fears her family could be split up after the government said it would close the children’s heart unit in Leeds.

The decision by NHS chiefs last week to close the unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) will leave sick children and their families from the Express area facing journeys to Newcastle or Liverpool for life-saving surgery.

Rebecca Saxton, a mum from Fitzwilliam, has accused the government of splitting up families with the move.

Her nine-year-old son Alex Barner suffers with a narrowing aorta in his heart and is due another operation after already having three.

Miss Saxton, who also has a six-year-old daughter, said: “I’m pregnant at the moment and if I have to go all that way it’s going to be difficult to cope with.

“It’s putting kids lives in danger but it’s the parents that are going through it too - it’s splitting up families, they don’t consider if we have other children.”

The unit saved the life of four-year-old Luke Barber, from Hemsworth.

Luke was born with exomphalos – a rare defect in the abdominal wall at the base of the umbilical cord - as well as chronic heart and lung disease.

He has undergone five operations and although he now only has to see a specialist every two years his family are still outraged at the closure of the unit that Luke could still need one day.

His mum Theresa Barber said: “It’s as though all those protests and all those people signing petitions have been a total waste of time. Luke shouldn’t need any more operations, but if he did there’s no way I could get all that time off work and it means I’d have to leave my other son at home.”

Campaigners have vowed to keep fighting to keep a children’s heart surgery service in Yorkshire.

A Facebook group has been set up by Hemsworth mum Melissa Taylor, who is supporting friends and family who rely on the heart unit.

Coun Peter Box, the leader of Wakefield Council, has backed the protests calling for the government to re-consider the decision to close the unit.