Doting dad raises thousands for heart unit

PASSIONATE: Andrew Bohannan raised more than �1,600 for a fund set up to help parents at the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit.

PASSIONATE: Andrew Bohannan raised more than �1,600 for a fund set up to help parents at the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit.

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A CLECKHEATON dad has raised more than £1,600 for a fund to help families at the under-threat Children’s Heart Surgery Unit in Leeds – after seeing its life-saving work first hand.

Andrew Bohannan’s son Nicholas has undergone three major heart operations at the unit, including a 16-hour one last year to repair his heart.

Mr Bohannan competed in the Jane Tomlinson 10K Race For All, in Leeds, in June to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, set up to fight government plans to close the unit.

This would mean the nearest children’s heart unit would be in Newcastle.

Nicholas’s first operation took place when he was just three days old. He was born with five major heart defects and is likely to need a transplant in the future.

He is now 13 and a pupil at Whitechapel Middle School, but the care he received at the specialist unit at Leeds General Infirmary spurred Andrew on to raise as much as possible for the fund.

Mr Bohannan said: “The closure of the unit at Leeds would affect everyone in Yorkshire. Everything is up and running there and they have great surgeons. I did it not just because of what we’ve been through but for the other families going through the same thing, who have received such excellent care at Leeds.”

The unit, at ward 10, provides accommodation for parents and serves the whole of Yorkshire.

The government wants to centralise specialist care, but Mr Bohannan believes moving operations to Newcastle will have a drastic effect on those who depend on the unit.

“At LGI everything is under one roof and they can cater for the siblings of the child as well,” he said.

“At Newcastle, the different departments are spread all over the city.”

Campaigners have collected 500,000 signatures for a petition that has been handed in to 10 Downing Street.

Mr Bohannan said that despite undergoing so many major operations at a young age, he couldn’t praise Nicholas enough.

He said: “How he keeps his spirits up I don’t know. He is the bravest lad I can ever know. He always has a great big smile on his face.

“Raising money and getting signatures on the petition was my way of giving something back for all they have given us.”