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Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal hits £6million after Heart Link donation

Heart Link children’s heart charity have made a substantial donation to the new children’s cardiac unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

The £170,000 donation to the Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal means the campaign to help create a state-of-the-art new children’s hospital in Leicester has now reached £6million raised of its £7.5million target.

Heart Link has pledged the donation to fund eight rooms in the new Leicester Children’s Hospital as well as much needed equipment, continuing the many years of funding equipment and facilities at the children’s cardiac service.

Heart Link began in 1981 to help children with heart conditions and their families. It was founded following the experience of Geoff and Gill Smart after their daughter Amanda was born with a serious heart condition, and there were no facilities for families to stay with their sick child at the then Groby Road Hospital.

Since then, Heart Link has contributed millions of pounds providing equipment, parent facilities, as well as funding for research and training.

Sadly, both Gill and Amanda have passed away – Amanda in December 2018 and Gill in June this year.

The charity also lost one of its longest serving trustees, John Rigby, in May this year. It is hoped that Amanda, Gill and John’s memories will be commemorated within the funded rooms for all the hard work, time and commitment they gave to raising funds for Heart Link and to supporting families and children over very many years.

The donation will allow their great work to continue as it will support the relocation of Glenfield Hospital’s world-renowned East Midland’s Congenital Heart Centre (EMCHC) to a state-of-the-art new children’s hospital at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Heart Link trustee Shirley Barnes says everyone involved in the charity is proud to support the next evolution of children’s heart services in Leicestershire and will remember Gill Smart fondly.

“Everything Gill did was from the heart,” says Shirley. “She lived, ate, slept and breathed Heart Link. Everything she did was for families and kids. She was there right from the very beginning and she worked so, so hard to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for children’s heart services in Leicester alongside other trustees no longer with us like John Rigby.

"All of us at Heart Link work to do whatever is necessary to make things better for the children on the cardiac wards and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. It is for those families and the amazing staff on those wards that we are making this £170,000 donation in support of.”

Heart Link has had a long association with EMCHC. They notably funded the introduction of ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) into Great Britain at Groby Road in 1989. This is a modern invasive life-support technique which can be used in patients with extremely severe respiratory (lungs) and cardiac (heart) failure. The treatment is very expensive, labour intensive and, at this time, financial support from the NHS was out of the question.

Heart Link also played a major role in campaigning to keep EMCHC in Leicester when it was under threat of closure in 2017. Leicester Hospitals Charity’s Director, Lisa Davies, says her charity – who run the Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal – are deeply grateful to Heart Link for this poignant donation.

“We are incredibly touched to have received this generous donation to our Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal from Heart Link,” says Lisa.

“Gill Smart was an amazing individual who had such a remarkable impact on developing and then saving the children’s heart services at Glenfield Hospital. We are proud to honour Gill’s legacy by supporting the relocation of these vital services to a new, dedicated children’s hospital that will benefit families like the ones she supported for over 30 years long into the future.”

The Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal aims to raise £7.5million to help create a new state-of-the-art children’s hospital at the Leicester Royal Infirmary where, for the first time, all children’s hospital services will be located together under one roof.

Anyone wanting to contribute towards making the Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal a success can visit to donate, sign up as a supporter or learn more about the appeal, or can follow the appeal on Facebook and help spread the word on social media using #DoThemProud.

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