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The heart of recruitment: Supporting the Children's Heart Surgery Fund

At the end of last year Newman Stewart reported some of the great things we are doing to support the education of youngsters in the poorest parts of Africa, through the charity Mary’s Meals. This year we are adding to our NS Giving Back philanthropic efforts by supporting a charity a little closer to home in more ways than one. A baby is born with a serious heart condition every two hours in the UK. The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund supports children and adults born with congenital heart disease across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. A member of the senior leadership team here at Newman Stewart, has in fact seen the work of the CHSF first hand and knows the real difference they can make.

Over 400 children have open heart surgery at the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit each year, and around 10,000 are treated as outpatients. We’re delighted to be able to help support patients and their families through the most difficult times of their lives. Through donations like ours CHSF is making great advancements in the understanding and detection of congenital heart conditions. They recently announced that donations had paid for 20 Pulse Oximetry monitors that provide early detection of congenital heart disease in babies, by indicating heart or respiratory issues quickly and effectively through the measurement of levels of oxygen in the blood.

Sharon Coyle, CEO of Children’s Heart Surgery Fund said “We’re very pleased to help fund improvements in congenital heart disease detection. It will prove hugely significant for future patients in our region.”

Despite congenital heart disease being one of the biggest killers of infants in the UK, less than half of congenital heart defects are picked up during routine pre-natal scanning, so this initiative is a real step forward and will undoubtedly save lives as it is rolled out nationally.

The charity is making a difference to young lives and families every day, including Jessica Mitchelmore, who was diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) at 7 months old after her GP detected a heart murmur. After numerous appointments and discussions with specialists, the decision was made that Jessica would need open heart surgery to correct the hole in her heart. Her surgery was done when Jessica was 2.

The team were happy with the closure and, although there was some fluid accumulation, this was dealt with quickly and Jess was discharged after 6 nights in hospital. Jessica’s mum Jo describes the process from diagnosis to intervention and the impact it has had on the family as a whole:

“Although Jessica’s heart condition is fairly simple compared to others, this has still had a massive impact on the whole family. The shock and concern at diagnosis, the never ending worries and questions and the decision making process have been incredibly challenging. Doing this and continuing daily life as a family, has been a constant challenge. We have felt like we are living our lives waiting, from one appointment to the next, from one decision to the next, from one phone call or letter to the next.

Waiting for the letter or call to give us a date was one of the hardest things, knowing we were on the cancellation list so everything could suddenly change if we got a call, putting everyone and everything else on hold because we just didn’t know what was happening.”

Jo explains how the hospital staff made sure everyone in the family were looked after during Jessica’s time in hospital, particularly her son Harry, who found it difficult to understand what was happening to Jess and was understandably worried about her.

“Harry has had support from the play specialists to understand this better and Charlotte (one of the nurses on ward 51) made him feel much more comfortable simply by explaining what she was doing when she did Jess’s observations, and by involving him in this.”

In addition, Jo describes the care she received from one of the clinical physiologists funded by Children’s Heart Surgery Fund:

“We couldn’t have got through this without her. She rang every few weeks while we were on the waiting list for surgery. We had a face to face session with her to talk things through. We chatted to her once we had taken Jess to anaesthetic, she came to see us on ward and in PICU. Her friendly, likeable manner has given myself and my husband the support we so desperately needed. She appeared when we needed her, as if she knew we did!”

Newman Stewart has several fund raising events organised throughout the year to support this amazing charity including our recent ‘Wear red day picnic’.

Please join us in supporting the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund’s ongoing efforts. More information can be found on their website.

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