The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Children’s Heart Surgery Fund launches new book for young patients

4 August 2017

A new interactive book from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) aimed at helping children born with congenital heart disease launched on Yorkshire Day at Leeds Children’s Hospital (LCH).
This brand new 32-page information and activity book was written by medical staff from LTHT featuring much-loved character Katie Bear and her friends. It provides a realistic and child-friendly introduction to hospital and describes what young patients can expect before, during and after heart surgery.
The book offers a bespoke guide to young patients with congenital heart disease in Leeds. With bright illustrations based upon recognisable wards, departments, and staff from LCH, the book aims to prepare patients and their families for their hospital journey.
The book was written by Senior Clinical Psychologist Rachel Avison and Children's Cardiac Nurse Specialist Mike Fresson, who have worked with heart families and patients at the LGI for many years.
CHSF book
Rachel said: “Meeting young patients through our clinics has meant we’ve picked up on a lot of questions children and their families have about heart surgery. This has helped us structure the book around easing anxiety and answering the most important questions.”
Local designer Charlie O‘Neill illustrated the book based on photos of actual hospital staff and locations to help bring to life the narrative of the hospital journey and make the guide as familiar as possible.
She said: “Taking an existing character and incorporating that style into my own was tricky, but I worked closely with the authors to make sure the tone and feel was right. It’s been such a privilege working on the book.”
Emmerdale actor Dominic Brunt was also in attendance to lend some star attraction to the launch. Dominic’s son was born with the condition, and so he knew exactly what families go through.
He said: “We were a little overwhelmed and scared at the time of my son’s operation and this book covers everything. I really wish we had this book around when we arrived in hospital.”
He added: “I like that fact that it doesn’t shy away from the fear and nerves which every family must go through. It would be tempting to normalise the experience but of course there is nothing normal about the situation.”
Young patients up to 10 years old will receive a free copy of the new book at their first hospital appointment, after heart surgery has been decided upon. A free copy of the book can also be sent to patients who have had surgery within the last 6 months.
For more information on how to get a free copy, or to buy one, details are available on the CHSF website.