Mum fights for Georgia

Rachel Ling with her daughter Georgia who has a heart condition and was treated at Leeds LGI's heart surgery unit. (d10051105)
Rachel Ling with her daughter Georgia who has a heart condition and was treated at Leeds LGI's heart surgery unit. (d10051105)
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A MOTHER is joining the fight to save a hospital heart unit that saved her child’s life.

Rachel Ling’s daughter, Georgia, was born with rare heart and stomach defects. The five-year-old spent the first 12 weeks of her life in intensive care at the Children’s Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

But the unit could be closed as part of a national review, meaning children in Yorkshire could have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for treatment.

The NHS is consulting on proposals to cut the number of hospitals offering specialist heart surgery for children. Health bosses have conducted a review into all 11 units in England which currently offer such services. It has proposed four options – all of which involve stopping operations at either four or five hospitals. Three of the four options involve closing the children’s unit at LGI.

Mrs Ling grew up in Thornhill, but moved to Leeds with her husband, Matthew, around six years ago. They had learned that Georgia would be born with problems and wanted to be closer to LGI.

Mrs Ling said: “Georgia was very, very poorly when she was born. We feel, if she’d had to go somewhere else for treatment, she wouldn’t have made it.”

Georgia has had several hospital stints and will need more surgery. She spent a months in the heart unit when her brother, Toby, was just four months old.

Georgia’s grandmother, Jean Skidmore, of Edge Top Road, Thornhill, helps look after Toby, now three, when Georgia is ill.

Georgia has been cared for by doctors who have known her throughout her treatment.

Mrs Ling said: “Georgia is a very timid little girl, but they have all seen her grow up and they are all rooting for her.”

Thornhill Community Science College, where Mrs Skidmore work, has raised money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

The proposed closure is being opposed by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell. He said: “When your child is in need of complex medical treatment the last thing you want to do is travel hundreds of miles. Yet if the proposed closure of the unit at Leeds does go ahead this is exactly what parents will have to do in future.”

This week he attended a meeting in the House of Commons with representatives from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.