British Heart Foundation (BHF) Ambassador Pippa Middleton paid young heart patients a surprise visit after pledging her support for the charity’s Christmas Appeal, spending yesterday morning [Tuesday 4 December] at the paediatric cardiac ward at Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital to cheer up patients and listen to the many inspirational stories of young people living with a heart condition
Pippa, who has been supporting the BHF for over three years also met some of the BHF’s world leading researchers in the field of congenital heart disease, to find out how they’re saving young lives with their breakthroughs. This included the newly appointed BHF Professor of congenital heart disease Professor Massimo Caputo from the University of Bristol. He and his team are trying to find ways to stop the hearts of children and babies becoming damaged during heart surgery.
Each year, around 4,000 babies, are diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in the UK - that’s 12 babies every day with many more diagnoses later in life. Sadly around 400 of those children die each year before they reach school age.
Pippa is supporting the BHF’s Christmas Appeal which aims to raise over half a million pounds towards pioneering research into congenital heart disease.
Pippa Middleton said at the hospital: "It was a huge honour to spend time with such brave children and their peers to hear about their challenging journeys. I was hugely impressed by the extraordinary work being done by the medical team. Their sheer determination and positive energy was inspiring. It was also fascinating to learn about the pioneering research that the BHF is funding thanks to the public’s generosity, which will help transform the lives of children like those I have met today.
"Thousands of children are living with congenital heart disease in the UK, so the need for research is more urgent than ever. I would urge everyone to support the BHF’s Christmas Appeal, to help give every child born with a congenital heart condition hope for the brightest possible future."
BHF Professor Massimo Caputo, from the University’s Bristol Heart Institute and Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences , added: "Congenital heart disease is drastically under-researched. While there has been great progress in the treatment of heart conditions in young patients, there are still thousands living with the burden of these terrible conditions, and hundreds each year who sadly don’t survive. It’s fantastic that Pippa took the time to visit the hospital and spend time with such brave and inspiring children. It brought a real smile to their faces, which is so nice to see, especially a couple of weeks before Christmas."
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF said of Pippa’s involvement: "Sadly, many tiny hearts will be struggling this Christmas. But the support of Pippa Middleton and the thousands of families affected by heart disease will make a huge difference to our Christmas Appeal. With the public’s support we can find new ways to prevent and support families who have to go through the heartache of bringing up a child with congenital heart disease - the best possible Christmas present."
Visit christmas.bhf.org.uk to find out more about the BHF’s Christmas Appeal.