Sally’s heart defect wasn’t identified until after she was born and had open heart surgery at 18 days to correct her CHD. Doctors at the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit stated that without this operation, Sally wouldn’t live past 6 months old.

Now 21, Sally has already achieved so much. She is passionate about celebrating and inspiring our youngest heart warriors, by showing them that the sky’s the limit…

Sally said:

“I was born on the 22nd May 2002 at St James University Hospital, where I was not long after transferred over to the LGI.


“I was born with a large VSD and Transposition of the great arteries (TGA) but my parents didn’t know that anything was wrong with my heart until I was born, as I came out the wrong colour.


“At 18 days old I had my operation. I had a VSD repair and an arterial switch, with the operation lasting 9 and half hours. My surgeon at the time was Mr Kevin Waterson.


“I attend the LGI for yearly check-ups as, so far, nothing has changed dramatically and my heart has stayed stable.


“We first heard of CHSF after I had my operation, as the Charity gave me my very own Katie Bear after my heart surgery that came with an official certificate.

“I still have my bear to this day and love her very dearly. I love that children get their own bear as it’s something that we can treasure for the rest of our lives. The Katie Bear given out now is very different to mine, but I like that mine is an earlier version as she’s special to me.

“I never let my heart condition be a restriction in life”

“Over the years Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has supported me and my family by always checking in on us when we get in contact, or by simply seeing staff around the hospital. They are always so kind and always love a good chat. I feel very supported by the charity as I can go to them with any query I may have.”


“Now that I’m older, I can support them even more by raising funds and volunteering for them at a variety of their events, which I thoroughly enjoy as I get to see all our heart warriors in their element.


“What I love most about the CHSF team is that they always allow me to share my story and achievements so that I can inspire our younger heart warriors to know not to let anything hold them back.

“Having my operation as a baby meant I was able to live past 6 months old – this allowed me to go to school, college and graduate university with a degree in BA Photography, with a grade of a 2.1. I was able to join Stagecoach performing arts school and do many performances over 11 years in many great venues across the UK. I’ve been on lots of school trips abroad to sing.

“My most recent trip was to New York last year with the art and design department of my university.


“I am now in a Leeds based choir called Leeds Vocal Movement where we rehearse once a week.


“These are only some of the many things I have been able to do. I never let my heart condition be a restriction in life for me – I often forget that my scar is there!”

13 babies are born every day in the UK with a heart defect, making CHD the most common birth defect.

In our region alone, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund is there for over 17,000 babies, children and adults like Sally every year,  who are living with a heart defect. We’re there to support their families too!

Help us to raise vital funds this #HeartMonth, by making a donation to our essential and life-saving work. Thank you.

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