Yorkshire Evening Post
Wednesday 8th July 2020
By Joanna Wardill
A devoted big brother has taken part in a fundraising bike ride to say thank-you to the Leeds hospital team which saved his baby brother’s life.
Noah Bullock, six, cycled 16km at the weekend for the ‘Virtual 10k’ fundraising event in aid of the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), which supports the congenital heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
The unit is where Noah’s little brother Roman, now 11 months, has twice had open heart surgery after he was born with a rare, life-threatening heart defect
Big brother Noah Bullock holds baby Roman, after his first surgery.
This left a hole in his heart and meant his aorta connected to the right ventricle, instead of the left.
Mum Stacey Simpson, 36, of Meanwood, said:
I’m so proud of both my boys. As Noah says, Roman has been born with a broken heart but it’s going to be fixed. It just makes me feel so grateful. Their bond’s amazing. Noah just gives Roman anything he wants. He is so loving and caring. Noah has been saying he’s been raising the money for people who really need it.
He understands how important they have been for Roman and just wanted to give something back.
Noah joined dad David Bullock, 37, on Saturday and together they managed to raise over £400 for CHSF.
Stacey said Roman’s recovery so far has been “amazing” and he is hitting all his milestones despite his tough start to life.
The family was told he had a heart problem during a scan while Stacey was pregnant – but it wasn’t until he was born that his defect was fully diagnosed.
I was devastated. I just thought I was going to lose him. They said there are things they can do to repair it but they just didn’t know [how he would be].
Roman Bullock, pictured as a newborn baby after his first open heart surgery.
His first surgery was carried out at just 12 days old and after a stint in intensive care and on ward 51, he was well enough to go home three weeks later.
But at seven months, doctors decided he needed a second procedure to connect the pulmonary artery directly to his lungs, leaving him with just one working ventricle.
Roman Bullock, pictured after his second open-heart surgery at seven months old.
The surgery was carried out on March 17 – just days before the Covid-19 lockdown and the new hospital rules, when his anxious parents were then forced to choose who stayed with him while he recovered.
To cope with it on your own was really hard but he came home after a week. He’s just done amazing. He’s come so far.
After surgery, you can’t go on your tummy for six weeks so for 12 weeks of his life he’s not been able to have any tummy time.
But he’s crawling, he’s pulling himself up on furniture – I think he’s done amazing. I’m just so proud of him.
The family now have to wait and see whether surgeons will be able to repair his heart when he’s older or whether he will ultimately need a heart transplant.
We just have to wait until he’s two or three. His next clinic appointment will be just after his first birthday and we’ll just keep going and as long as everything is alright, we just wait to see what’s next,
This is the third time the family has raised money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and earlier this month Stacey also sent in a heart-warming picture of a smiling Roman to support the charity’s ‘ScarSelfie’ day in June.
People look at Roman and see his scar and go ‘Oh my God’ and I think it’s a bit frightening for people. For me, it was frightening at first but I’m so proud of him and I’m so proud of his scar and how far he has come. He’s had two open heart surgeries and to look at him, he’s like any normal baby.
She paid tribute to the charity and the unit it supports, adding:
Roman Bullock’s smiling ‘ScarSelfie’ picture for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund’s annual campaign.
I can’t thank them enough for everything they do – they are fantastic, his surgeon, the nurses, everyone.
The CHSF Virtual 10k was organised after the postponement of the annual Leeds 10k with CHSF bosses asking its supporters to instead run, walk, scooter, cycle or even walk the dog to complete the distance from 9.30am on Saturday July 5.
Last year, CHSF received £6,000 from runners of the Leeds 10k – but supporters of this year’s Virtual 10k have smashed that total and raised over £10,000.
Sharon Milner, CEO of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said:
We are thrilled to receive such incredible support for Children’s Heart Surgery Fund’s Virtual £10k. Our supporters have risen to the challenge, and raised more than the previous year – it just goes to show how inspirational people can be. We are extremely grateful.