New campaign launched to fund pioneering children’s heart surgery theatre in Leeds

19 February 2017

An inspiring new campaign is being launched to help generate the vital funds needed to build a revolutionary children’s heart theatre at the Leeds General Infirmary.

The Keeping the Beat campaign, created by Leeds charity, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, aims to raise £500,000 over the next two years. The charity has already committed £1.25 million to the project and now the public’s support is needed to ensure it becomes a reality.

The new theatre is being created in response to new NHS standards which are being implemented by centres across the country and Leeds’s desire to stay at the forefront of cardiac treatment. The Leeds Congenital Heart Unit is the fourth busiest in the country, with at least 10,000 babies and children from Yorkshire, Humber and North Lincolnshire passing through it every year, with around 400 of these patients having open heart surgery, and a further 450 children undergoing interventional procedures such as pacemakers and catheters.

As well as open heart surgery, the children’s heart theatre will be used for delivering all minimally invasive heart procedures by cardiac catheter on babies and children with congenital heart disease.


Isabella Cook, 18, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire was born with numerous congenital heart conditions and has undergone two highly complex surgeries, the first one when she was just 5 years old.
Isabella Cook, 18, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire was born with numerous congenital heart conditions and has undergone two highly complex surgeries, the first one when she was just 5 years old


Isabella Cook, 18, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire was born with numerous congenital heart conditions and has undergone two highly complex surgeries, the first one when she was just 5 years old.

She and her family are prolific fundraisers, organising multiple events over the past few years including an annual Halloween Ball. In total, the family has raised £150,000.00 for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, the majority of which has been spent on specialist equipment. In a twist of fate, during Isabella’s last operation, she was treated with a piece of equipment which her fundraising had paid for.

Isabella was born with multiple heart conditions including transposition of the great ventricles, double outlet right ventricle, interrupted aortic arch and the extremely rare Dextrocardia, a condition which caused her heart to develop on the wrong side of her body.

She underwent her first Fontan surgery when she was five years old and had her final Fontan Procedure aged 15 years old.

After the very complex second operation she went into renal failure and her family were unsure of whether or not she would recover.

Isabella’s mum says: “I think the only reason Isabella pulled through that experience was because both the cardiac and renal teams were the same building, only a floor apart in the LGI and because of the healthcare professionals working so effectively.”

Isabella has now recovered and is being closely monitored by the hospital as an outpatient.

Isabella’s mum continues: “We are so proud of Isabella; she’s a fighter and such an inspiration to her two sisters and all of the children fighting congenital heart disease. We’re really pleased to be able to tell her story and also to support the great work that the charity does.”

Isabella adds: “I was really to be involved in the Keeping the Beat Gallery event and to help launch the campaign, as the fund has affected me directly. I want to do what I can to help support Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and the work they do – I’m not sure where I would be today if it weren’t for the great work they do.”

Isabella’s picture will be on display as part of the gallery event taking place at the Leeds Club on 19th May.


For patients, the benefits of having such a theatre include faster recovery times, shorter hospital waiting times and less post-operative pain, while it will also enable surgeons and cardiologists to undertake combined procedures and reduce the need for return surgery. Importantly, it will also provide clinicians with a facility which enables research into new treatments.

To launch the campaign, an event is being held on 19 May 2017 at the Leeds Club where key stakeholders from across the city will hear more about the benefits the theatre will deliver and why it is so important in ensuring Leeds remains a leading centre for cardiac surgery and care. To bring to life just how important current services are, the event will also feature a gallery of images, showcasing patients and their heart surgery scars, and their stories of how the life-saving treatment they received changed their lives for the better.

Sharon Coyle, CEO of Children’s Heart Surgery Fund said: There’s no doubt that Leeds currently boasts one of the best heart units anywhere in the UK, with patients travelling not just from within Yorkshire but also from outside the region to take advantage of the pioneering surgery and care it provides.

Over the next two years, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund’s focus is to support the new standards created by NHS England, with the children’s heart theatre being the biggest and most expensive standard amongst the 200 set out by the new review.

By supporting our appeal and donating, the public will help to ensure that Leeds remains at the fore front of specialist cardiac surgical facilities and continues to provide excellent care to all the babies and children for generations to come.

As part of the launch, the family of a one-year old patient from Bingley will be presenting a cheque for £31,000 to the charity.

Albie Carroll was diagnosed with congenital heart disease when he was eight weeks old and received treatment at the Leeds General Infirmary in February last year. He underwent major surgery to treat four holes in his heart, coarctation of the aorta and slight hypoplastic left heart.

Albie’s mother, Freya Carroll, said: There is nothing more terrifying for a parent than to hear your child’s life is at risk. Even though we were being faced with something so awful when Albie was diagnosed last year, we were quickly made aware that we were in the best possible place and the help and support that the Children’s Heart surgery Fund gave to us throughout our experience of Albie’s treatment was invaluable.

It was during our time in hospital that we decided we needed to give something back and raise as much money as possible for the children’s heart surgery fund. We’ve done this by holding different fund raisers, taking part in physical challenges and hosting a charity ball.

We want the charity to continue to help families like us. We are thrilled that the money raised is going towards a new state of the art theatre, knowing that out of such heart ache and such a hard situation we have been able to do something positive.

To get involved and support this appeal donate online at, or text BEAT02 £10 to 70070. People are also encouraged to set up their own fundraising event or challenge.

More information about the campaign and latest updates on how it is progressing can be found at or via the charity’s Facebook page or through its Twitter feed @CHSurgeryFund. People can tweet their support using #Keepingthebeat.


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