Messingham father calls for closure-threatened hospital heart unit to be spared
A FATHER is calling for a heart unit facing closure to be kept open after his eight-month old son was given life-saving treatment there.
Shortly after being born in June last year, William Usher was diagnosed with a heart murmur at Grimsby Diana Princess of Wales Hospital.
Doctors believed William, of Kealholme Road, Messingham, to have a 5mm hole in his heart, which was later found to be 2cm.
Last month he was sent to the children's heart unit in Leeds, so doctors could operate before his condition deteriorated.
Now, Stuart and Louise Usher, William's parents, have joined other families in North Lincolnshire who have used the Children's Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary to urge the Government to keep it open.
Mr Usher, 37, said: "It is crucial the unit is saved and I am doing everything I can to help. They changed my life and gave my son a life."
A decision was made last July by health officials that paediatric cardiac surgery should be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards across the country.
The Save Our Surgery (SOS) campaign – which aims to keep the Leeds unit open – has prompted High Court action about the decision, which if it goes ahead would force patients from North Lincolnshire to travel to Liverpool or Newcastle instead.
Mr Usher said: "How can you put a price on a child's life? This is something we need to invest in, rather than condense. As a family, we would have struggled to travel to Newcastle."
Mrs Usher said: "It is a bitter pill to hear the unit might close. It really doesn't make sense to close it."
The unit will remain open until a decision is made by the Government in April.
The British Heart Foundation says one in every 145 babies is born with congenital heart disease.
Mr Usher said: "It was crazy to find out that the hole was 2cm in size. We got a phone call in January saying that he was top of the priority list.
"Doctors said he would gradually deteriorate if he didn't have the operation. They said in his situation, if an operation was not done within the first year, he was likely to die."
William has made a full recovery after surgeons repaired the hole in his heart.
Now Mr Usher, who works at Tata Steel, is taking part in the Scunthorpe Half Marathon in April to raise money for the SOS campaign. To sponsor him, call 05600 762338 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org