Family campaign to keep Yorkshire’s only heart hospital open for their baby boy

Amy Brocklebank with baby Louis
Amy Brocklebank with baby Louis
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A FAMILY from Sheffield have joined the growing campaign to stop the closure of Yorkshire’s only heart hospital which would mean they have to travel 140 miles to Newcastle for care for their baby boy.

Amy and Jonathan Brocklebank were overjoyed when their second child Louis was born, a happy, bubbly little baby who couldn’t stop smiling.

But the couple, from Stannington, soon realised there was something wrong with their son.

He stopped feeding and was sleeping for 23 hours a day.

Amy, aged 24, said: “When Louis was 10 weeks old the doctors realised he had two holes in his heart.

“He was admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital - he had lost weight, was breathless, extremely lethargic and ghost-white in colour.

“But the brief periods he was awake he was a happy, smiling baby, as long as he was just laid in your arms.

“He didn’t have any energy at all and was at constant risk of going into heart failure.

“If Louis would have picked up an infection, he was so poorly that he probably wouldn’t have been able to fight it. Luckily he didn’t.”

At 14 weeks Louis underwent open heart surgery at the Leeds heart unit, the only specialist service of its kind in the region.

Amy, who is on maternity leave from her job as a one-to-one care support worker, said: “They closed the larger hole in his heart and he improved a lot.

“But he is still struggling and he will have to have more surgery in the future.

“Leeds was fantastic - the care was wonderful. But it was difficult to get there each day when I have another child at home, Jody, who is three.

“If they close it we will have to go all the way to Newcastle. I can’t see how we will do it.”

Amy and her husband Jonathan, a 28-year-old landscape gardener, have collected more than 500 signatures on a petition against the closure and written to their MP, Deputy PM Nick Clegg.

“We just thought we had to do something about

it,” Amy said. “It would be terrible if they closed the hospital.”

She said Louis’ illness had been a struggle for the family, but the six-month-old’s happy character had kept them going.

“It has been a nightmare, but Louis has been so good with it,” she said.

“He just smiles through it all, which makes thing so much easier.”