A Yorkshire mum is encouraging local supporters to remember young heart patients from the region who are spending Christmas in the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.

She is endorsing a festive fundraising campaign to accrue vital donations for Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) at chsf.org.uk/heartsforlife.

Rebecca Rodgers from Keighley, is mum to daughter Bella – who spent her first at Leeds Children’s Hospital in 2014.

And she says the public should contribute to the Hearts for Life Christmas campaign set up by CHSF.

Rebecca said:

Bella was born in December 2014 and had her first open heart surgery at just 5 days old.

I remember that time like it was yesterday and every day felt like a week, but the staff made Christmas a joyous experience despite what was happening.

She has just celebrated her 5th birthday, and we are forever grateful to every single person involved in her care at Leeds.

Please donate to the Hearts for Life campaign to make sure other babies and children like Bella have the best chance of survival.

Bella was diagnosed with hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS), which means she has no right ventricle. Her heart condition was diagnosed when Rebecca was 20 weeks pregnant.

Bella’s next heart procedure is due early next year and every operation is expected to prolong and give her a better quality of life.

The Rodgers family have been active supporters of CHSF ever since Bella was born, raising thousands of pounds over the years, and this year they have collected and hand-wrapped 400 selection boxes for the CHSF Christmas Party.

Rebecca added:

We have made some of the best memories thanks to CHSF, which included the charity Christmas parties.

We learnt that the best way to deal with anything that was thrown our way was to find a positive. That’s why we decided to put our energy into providing treats for young patients and their families.

CHSF are wholly public-funded, and the annual Christmas party is free for patients recently treated and their families, thanks to donations from supporters across the region.

Funds mainly provide vital resources for patients and families including life-support machines and medical kit which save lives every day, the parent accommodation which Rebecca stayed in while Bella was being treated and distraction equipment like TVs and toys on the wards.

Rebecca said:

All of the distraction aids help make the experience of hospital less stressful and relatively easier under the circumstances.

We know that donations go directly towards making the journey through hospital more bearable for families, and encourage readers to get involved with CHSF however they can.

22,000 patients of all ages with congenital heart disease pass through the Leeds Heart Unit every year, and CHSF CEO Sharon Milner says the number is not likely to decrease any time soon:

12 babies are diagnosed with congenital heart disease every day in the UK. And as scientific understanding increases, so does the number of patients living with CHD.

Our plans for the future are ambitious and include comprehensive care for affected families, as well as continuing to provide the very best care for poorly patients like Bella and Ruby as they grow up.

Please help us support the Hearts for Life campaign into 2020 and beyond.

The Hearts for Life campaign introduces direct debt to the CHSF’s roster of giving options, and supporters are encouraged to pay a little every month.

Rebecca stars in the emotive CHSF campaign video, along with dad Steve, and sons Riley and Harley, which is available to watch at chsf.org.uk/heartsforlife.