HEART disease is our region’s biggest killer, leading to nearly 3,000 deaths in South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire each year.
But Sheffield has one of the best specialist heart centres in the country, treating more than 13,000 people from across the region a year.
Medics at the Northern General Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Centre carry out cutting-edge research and put it into action to save countless lives.
However, keeping such a specialised centre at the forefront of medical progress costs millions of pounds.
Over the last year, the South Yorkshire Heart Appeal has been raising funds for equipment, staff and research beyond the constraints of tightening NHS budgets.
So far, the appeal, run by Sheffield Hospitals Charity, has raised £200,000 for a 3D cardiac mapping system, two portable echocardiogram heart scanning machines and a nurse to screen families at risk of genetic heart conditions.
For the rest of this week – to mark the beginning of National Heart Month – The Star is highlighting the work done at the Cardiothoracic Centre.
David Reynolds, director of Sheffield Hospitals Charity, said: “There are thousands of local people who suffer from heart problems and need to receive vital, specialist treatment from the Cardiothoracic Centre at the Northern General.
“The aim of the South Yorkshire Heart Appeal is to ensure they receive the best quality care, by helping to fund state-of-the-art medical equipment, world class research, modern patient facilities and highly trained people to save lives.”
Elia Sanderson, aged 65, from Brampton, Barnsley, knows full well how the expertise at the centre can change a life.
Five years ago the grandmother-of-seven started feeling sick, complaining of shortness of breath and nausea.
“I couldn’t understand what was happening,” she told The Star. “I just had to keep stopping what I was doing.”
Elia, who is married to lorry driver James, 66, and has three grown-up children, had been diagnosed with angina 25 years before.
But a cardiologist at Montagu Hospital, Mexborough, realised Elia had been wrongly diagnosed – she had never had angina, but was suffering from at least one faulty heart valve.
Elia was taken to the Cardiothoracic Centre at the Northern General where she had three heart valves replaced in an eight-hour procedure.
“The staff there were absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I never felt any pain whatsoever.
“My life now is completely different. I used to get out of breath walking up steps. Now I feel great.”
Since her operation, Elia has raised £4,000 for Sheffield Hospital Charity’s appeal.
n To donate to the appeal, call 0114 226 3517.