Sheffield boxer returns to the hospital where he had surgery to repair a hole in his heart aged five to meet young patients
A Sheffield boxing champion, who had an operation to repair a hole in his heart when he was five-years-old, has returned to the hospital where he was treated to inspire the young heart patients.
Tommy Frank, who is IBO Intercontinental Flyweight, Commonwealth Super Flyweight, and WBC International Silver super flyweight champion, also met Carin Van Doorn, the surgeon who performed his operation 21 years ago at Leeds Children’s Hospital.
Tommy, aged 26, said it was his parents who encouraged him to take part in sport instead of ‘wrapping him in cotton wool’ because he had a heart condition.
He first attended Sheffield Boxing Centre when he was 12.
He said: said: “I’m hoping that a child with heart problems can look up to me and believe that there are really no barriers to succeeding in sport. Thanks to the treatment and care I received I have been able to get on with my life and follow my dreams.
“If I can inspire just one child to realise their dreams too then I feel I will have achieved something.”
During his visit, Tommy also gave his support to the Yorkshire and Humber Congenital Heart Disease Network which shares expertise, training, treatment and care from the specialist cardiac centre in Leeds throughout a network of hospitals, including those in Sheffield.
Carin Van Doorn said the ambition of heart surgeons in operating on young people was to give them a good quality of life so that they could flourish.
She said: “I’m delighted Tommy is doing so well in his boxing career. It is testimony to the congenital cardiac network that patients across Yorkshire can benefit from the expertise available at a specialist centre like Leeds.
“Having the network not only means we can provide consistent treatment but our patients have access to the highest quality congenital heart disease care irrespective of age or where they live.”
Debra Wheeler, who manages the Yorkshire and Humber Congenital Cardiac Network, said: “It is lovely to hear Tommy’s story and I am sure it will be an inspiration to many young people and families living with congenital heart disease.
“As a network this is what we are trying to achieve - the best possible quality of clinical care for all our patients.”