The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Yorkshire boxing champion Tommy Frank inspires young heart patients

17 January 2020

Having an operation at Leeds General Infirmary to repair a hole in his heart when he was five years old hasn’t stopped Yorkshire boxer Tommy Frank from becoming a champion.

The 26-year-old, who is the current IBO Intercontinental Flyweight, Commonwealth Super Flyweight, and WBC International Silver super flyweight champion returned to the Leeds hospital to meet Carin van Doorn, the surgeon who performed his operation 21 years ago, as well as inspiring the young heart patients who are currently receiving treatment.

He also gave his support to the Yorkshire and Humber Congenital Heart Disease Network which shares expertise, training, treatment and care from the specialist cardiac centre in Leeds throughout a network of hospitals across Yorkshire to help heart patients - including those in Tommy’s home town of Sheffield.

Tommy, who last year won three international boxing titles, spoke to 12 year old heart patient Amelie Brown from Skipton who was on the heart ward at Leeds Children’s Hospital about his experiences as a patient and showed them his boxing belts. 

He said it was his parents, Christine and Kevin, who encouraged him to take part in sport instead of “wrapping him in cotton wool” because he had a heart condition.  He first attended Sheffield Boxing Centre when he was 12.

Tommy said: “I’m hoping that a child with heart problems can look up to me and believe that there are really no barriers to succeeding in sport. 

“Thanks to the treatment and care I received in Leeds I have been able to get on with my life and follow my dreams.  If I can inspire just one child to realise their dreams too then I feel I will have achieved something.”

The Yorkshire and Humber Congenital Heart Disease Network, which is hosted by Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust as its cardiac specialist centre,  promotes expertise in the treatment of congenital heart disease for patients from birth through to adulthood so they get the best possible care available throughout their lives and as close to home as possible.

Carin Van Doorn, said the ambition of heart surgeons in operating on young people was ultimately to give them a good quality of life so that they could flourish, and Tommy was a great example of that. 

LG7 9448“I’m delighted Tommy is doing so well in his boxing career.  It is testimony to the congenital cardiac network that patients across Yorkshire can benefit from the expertise available at a specialist centre like Leeds.

“Having the network not only means we can provide consistent treatment but our patients have access to the highest quality congenital heart disease care irrespective of age or where they live.”

Debra Wheeler, who manages the Yorkshire and Humber Congenital Cardiac Network, said: “It is lovely to hear Tommy’s story and I am sure it will be an inspiration to many young people and families living with congenital heart disease.   As a Network this is what we are trying to achieve - the best possible quality of clinical care for all our patients so they can live life to the full.”