A DAD from South Yorkshire has suffered a double blow after being told he could need a heart transplant - just weeks after discovering his son had a serious heart defect.
Simon Rusling, aged 31, and his three-year-old son Frasier are now battling their illnesses together.
And the family are campaigning to keep open the threatened children’s heart unit at Leeds - which Simon says saved Frasier’s life.
Simon and wife Anita were delighted when she gave birth to Frasier in January 2008.
But they then found themselves facing every parent’s nightmare when a heart expert picked up Frasier’s condition. Frasier was found to have pulmonary atresia - a form of congenital heart disease in which the pulmonary valve does not form properly.
He was rushed straight to Leeds, where he underwent surgery for the first time aged just two weeks, to have a tube put into his chest to link his lungs and his heart to improve the oxygen supply.
Frasier, who is now three years old, went back to Leeds in October 2009 for a second operation to fit a bigger tube - but by then the family had suffered a second blow.
Simon had lost three-and-a-half-stone in weight and, when doctors examined him, they diagnosed heart failure.
He too was sent to Leeds for treatment, this time to the city’s General Infirmary, but the complex nature of his condition meant he later had to undergo a complicated operation in Newcastle.
Simon, who lives near Norton, Doncaster, has arteries connected to the wrong points in his heart and now awaits an operation to replace a valve that may last him five years - but is expecting to need a heart transplant.
Simon has now been warned he will probably need a heart transplant at some point in the future.
He said: “It has been a terrible few years. I’m 31 years old but I can’t kick a football with Frasier.
“It has been a really tough time.
“But when I was in hospital I was able to pop round the corner to see Frasier, who was in Leeds too.”