Heart unit saved my son’s life, says mum

Jessica and son Dylan
Jessica and son Dylan

A SCARBOROUGH mum is backing a campaign to keep the cardiac unit open which saved her son’s life.

Jessica Jenkins, 27, says she doesn’t think Dylan, 14 months, would have made it without the care and expertise of the children’s cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The ward is now facing closure as the Government looks at reducing the number of children’s congenital heart centres across the country.

Dylan was rushed into hospital on Friday May 13 and was found to have infective endocarditis - a condition where bacteria in the blood clings to the heart.

Following open heart surgery he is still on the ward and is being treated with antibiotics.

Mrs Jenkins, who trained as a teacher in Scarborough and now lives and works in Sheffield, said when Dylan fell ill was the most traumatic week of her life.

She said: “It was touch and go in the ambulance. We had to pull over on the motorway so the paramedics could stabilise him.

“If we’d have had to go to the unit in Newcastle I don’t think he’d have made it.”

The former Graham School pupil added that the staff at the heart unit were “absolutely amazing” and saved Dylan’s life.

She said: “They are so caring and compassionate and they’re incredibly supportive of parents who are going through a very difficult time.

“There a gorgeous playroom and parents’ accommodation is provided so they can be near their children.

“I was absolutely mortified when I heard the unit might not be there in the future.”

Mrs Jenkins’ brother Sam Holmes is also lending his support and held a music night at Cafe Venus in Ramshill Road to raise funds.

The money will go to the Sick Children’s Trust, who provide the parents’ accommodation at a number of hospitals.

He said: “They provide a home from home, which has been a godsend to Jessica and Nick.

“It just makes things a lot, lot easier.”

A consultation into the future of children’s congenital heart services is coming to an end on July 1.

In the first three months of the consultation 17,661 people including parents, young people and clinicians have responded.To put your opinion across you can complete a response form online www.ipsos-mori.com/safeandsustainable or request a hard copy.

Alternatively text ‘HEART’ to 85001 free of charge.

There is also a petition by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund to save the unit, which has attracted over 36,500 signatures so far. Go to www.chsf.org.uk/save-our-heart-surgery-unit