Charity-funded echo machine helps tiny tickers

Children requiring life-saving heart scans are now able to receive their care closer to home thanks to a new heart scanner funded by the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity.

According to the British Heart Foundation, a heart defect is the most common problem a baby can be born with. The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust cares for more than 500 babies and children every year for conditions varying from heart murmurs to breathing problems.

Thanks to your donations, the charity has successfully funded a £54,000 echocardiography machine for The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s Family Health division.

Dr Moslehuddin Farid, a Consultant Cardiologist at Rotherham Hospital, said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to receive funding from the charity for our own paediatric echo machine. It’s a big investment but a wonderful way to invest the money people generously donate to the charity.

“The state-of-the-art equipment means we can carry out urgent scans promptly because we don’t have to rely on sharing equipment with adult services. Having our own paediatric echo machine here in Rotherham also prevents families unnecessarily travelling to the specialist centre in Leeds and Sheffield.

“Providing care closer to home is reassuring and less stressful for parents who are naturally worried about their child’s health.

“The equipment is also tailored to neonatal services so the quality of the scans is more accurate, making it easier for clinicians to diagnose heart conditions and advise treatment plans.”

Children’s Outpatient clinics are currently held four times a month at Rotherham Hospital, with more than 40 babies and children receiving specialist care from Rotherham’s paediatric cardiologist or visiting cardiologists from Leeds.

Dr Farid said the echo machine is already making a huge difference to families in Rotherham, especially those who would ordinarily have needed to travel to appointments elsewhere.

Baby Marianna Sivakova was one of the first to benefit from the new echo machine. The tot was born on 28 February with a congenital heart disease called total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVD). The condition occurs during the first eight weeks of pregnancy and causes the blood vessels which bring oxygen-rich blood back to the heart from the lungs to become improperly connected.

Parents, 19-year-old Vanessa and 21-year-old Marian Sivakova, travelled from Rotherham to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and then to St James’s Hospital Neonatal Unit in Leeds so Marianne could undergo the scans she needed.

Charity-funded echo machine helps tiny tickers
Baby Marianna Sivakova with mum Vanessa, Nursery Nurse Katie Banks, and Dr Moslehuddin Farid, Consultant Cardiologist at Rotherham Hospital.

Vanessa, of Erkskine Road, Eastwood, said:

“Four hours after Marianna was born she became distressed because she was low in oxygen due to her heart condition. She was placed in an incubator and given antibiotics at Rotherham Hospital before she was transferred to other specialist units in Yorkshire.

“I never got the chance to hold her before she was whisked away. She had open-heart surgery in Leeds when she was just five days old.

“We were so worried and travelling across Yorkshire, especially with Marianna’s one-year-old sister Jasmin at home too, made it feel more stressful.

“I’m so pleased Rotherham now has an echo scanner because it means we don’t have to travel as far for Marianna’s follow-up appointments. It’s convenient and reassuring to have the equipment in Rotherham and I’m grateful the charity has funded it so other families and babies with heart defects can benefit from it in future.”