Little Alex Brook has first operation at Leeds children’s heart unit

9th April 2013.   Sue Brook from Normanton with her son 22-month-old Alex, who will be one of the first to have surgery at the Children's Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
9th April 2013. Sue Brook from Normanton with her son 22-month-old Alex, who will be one of the first to have surgery at the Children's Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
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Little Alex Brook, of Normanton, is recovering in intensive care after becoming the first youngster to undergo surgery at the recently re-opened Leeds children’s heart unit.

The unit at Leeds General Infirmary was closed for nearly a fortnight after NHS figures suggested it had a death rate double that of other centres.

But operations resumed at the unit on a phased basis on Wednesday, where 22-month old Alex was the first to have surgery.

He was born with a hole in the heart and had already had one operation there.

Before surgery, his mother Sue said: “It’s been an anxious time waiting to hear what will happen and we had to be delayed coming in. We know the hospital very well and I’ve every faith in the team.”

Yesterday a spokesman for the hospital said the operation was a success and Alex was “making good progress”.

He will remain in intensive care until he is strong enough to return to the ward.

All operations at the unit were halted two weeks ago after NHS bosses said they had been given data suggesting it had higher than expected death rates.

Medical experts questioned the accuracy of the data, which they said was unverified.

Health bosses decided to reopen the unit this week after a meeting late last Thursday.

Families criticised the timing of the unit’s suspension, which came just 24 hours after a High Court judge ruled that a decision-making process to close it as part of an England-wide reorganisation of services was “legally flawed”.

If the unit closes, poorly children from Wakefield will have to travel to Liverpool or Newcastle for treatment.

Joanne Lancaster, of Stanley, campaigned as her six-year-old son Toby received life-saving treatment at the hospital.

She said: “It has been a real roller coaster ride of emotions. I am pleased that surgery has resumed.

“All I can say from personal experience is that we have always had excellent service from the staff at Leeds when they have cared for our little boy, Toby. They have saved his life.

Sue Bastow, whose daughter Ebony Fisher, of Normanton, received life-saving treatment at LGI, said: “Hopefully, the dedicated surgeons and staff at the unit can carry on doing the job they are passionate about and let our children receive the gold standard care that Leeds offers so many children.

“Our children fight everyday to be here, the least we can do as parents is fight for what we believe is best for them.”