Heart op boy’s family says Southampton unit is vital

PATIENT Aaron Prior, front, with brother Jadon and parents Paul and Sam.   (080725-0035)
PATIENT Aaron Prior, front, with brother Jadon and parents Paul and Sam. (080725-0035)

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THE mother of a boy who uses the region’s children’s heart services has backed a report that underlines how vital it is.

Sam Prior, of Locks Heath, has welcomed an independent report that reveals most experts would prefer to keep children’s congenital heart services at Southampton General Hospital.

It is important to the Prior family as son Aaron, nine, was born without a left ventricle in his heart.

The youngster has had four open heart surgery operations during his time being treated at the hospital.

Mrs Prior, a project administrator, said: ‘The care Aaron has got in Southampton has been vital and that’s why he is here with us today.

‘He required three complex stages of surgery and because of that he is well at the moment.

‘The service is the second best in the whole country and has been a fundamental part of our lives.

‘You can’t replicate the level of quality here and I wouldn’t want to travel somewhere for a lower quality of care.’

An NHS consultation launched earlier this year asked people to pick one of four options, all of which pooled together different centres. It would mean 11 centres nationally would be reduced to either six or seven, depending on which option is chosen.

Southampton was part of option B, along with Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and two centres in London.

It was the most popular option among organisations, including local authorities, parent groups and patient groups.

But individual responses did not favour keeping the service in Southampton.

Mrs Prior added: ‘I’m pleased with the report.

‘It puts Southampton in a much stronger position.

‘We’re lucky we only live 15 miles from the hospital but I’ve never been fighting for it because it’s on my doorstep. I’m fighting for it because it’s the best unit.

‘Of all the units available in the country, there’s a huge difference between what a centre can and can’t do.

‘Southampton can do complex procedures, but can’t do transplants, but Bristol couldn’t treat my son because they don’t do that sort of surgery.’

The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts is expected to make a final decision by the end of this year, with implementation due to start in 2013.