A MUM who claims she will be forced to move home if Southampton’s children’s heart unit is scrapped says health bosses must not ignore the 180,000 people who have signed the Daily Echo’s petition to save it.

Helen Laverty’s demand comes with just nine days to go before the fight to save the world renowned unit at Southampton General Hospital is taken to 10 Downing Street.

Her daughter’s life was saved last week when the specialist team performed open-heart surgery for the third time on two-year-old Nancy, who was born with one of the most complex congenital heart defects.

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The consultation is what the government will use to evaluate which units it will keep. It is imperative that as many people as possible use this opportunity to say they want 'Option B' which will save Southampton's children's cardiac unit.

Nancy has come over from the Isle of Wight for treatment since she was born but her family knows that if surgery at Southampton stopped, they would face a journey of more than four hours, which Helen fears would put Nancy’s life at risk.

They have helped collect more than 6,000 signatures for the Daily Echo’s Have A Heart petition, which has more than 180,000 names to it as the countdown to D-Day – Downing Street Day – continues.

On June 22 we will be joined by campaigners, hospital staff and MPs to hand the petition to Number 10, to put pressure on health bosses who hold Southampton’s fate in their hands.

The specialist paediatric centre at Southampton is under threat, despite being ranked the second best in the country.

If Southampton closed, families would be forced to get lifesaving treatment in London or Bristol, at units which experts say fall below the “exemplary”

standards that the city boasts.

The consultation has been criticised for being “flawed” after it failed to calculate correct travel times for families coming from the Isle of Wight.

Helen said: “It is unbelievable that our travel times have been overlooked.

To me it feels as if they are saying that the lives of children elsewhere are more valuable than my daughter’s. How can that be right?

“If surgery at Southampton stopped I would be forced to move. It’s not something I want to do, but I couldn’t live with myself knowing that Nancy’s chances of survival were reduced because of where we lived.

“The support I have had from the team here has been absolutely phenomenal. Health chiefs must not ignore the 180,000 voices that are calling for it to be saved.”

Daily Echo: Daily Echo Have a Heart Campaign to save paediatric heart surgery in Southampton

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