Parents join ‘silent’ heart unit protest

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A SPALDING couple are hoping to make their voices heard at a silent protest against the planned closure of a specialist heart unit.

Christer and Francesca Larsson will join hundreds expected to gather in Parliament Square in London on Monday to show the strength of feeling to MPs as they return from their summer break.

Among the crowd will be 50 people wearing red T-shirts – to signify the number of babies and children who could die as a result of changes planned for Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

The hospital will cease children’s heart surgery as part of the plans and children from south Lincolnshire will be expected to travel to one of two specialised units in London.

The London protest is the latest attempt to save the unit, which saved Francesca and Christer’s daughter Sofia’s life after she was born with three separate heart defects in February 2010.

Francesca said: “We want to let the MPs know that we are still here and still fighting for Glenfield.

“The reason they undertook the review of children’s heart surgery was to provide the best possible service and because they didn’t want any more children than absolutely necessary to die, yet all suggestions are that these changes will result in more than 50 children dying.

“It seems to defeat the object of the whole thing.

“It seems now that some important people are starting to sit up and listen to what we are saying, but it is a case of getting the right people to listen.

“We feel we have to start again from scratch now that Andrew Lansley has been replaced by Jeremy Hunt as health secretary, but we are still hopeful this decision can be overturned.”

The changes would also result in the closure of one of the world’s leading ECMO unit.

ECMO is a bypass for heart and lungs, which allows a patient’s own organs to rest while they recover.

Glenfield’s ECMO has a survival rate of more than 50 per cent higher than any other unit in the country, and is comparable to the best in the world.