Brave Holly asks to help broken hearts

Tracy Hunt and daughter Holly from Ilkeston are supporting the latest campaign into heart desease.
Tracy Hunt and daughter Holly from Ilkeston are supporting the latest campaign into heart desease.
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AN ILKESTON mum has asked the town to dig deep for a charity’s radical research into heart disease, after the support it gave to her daughter.

At two days old, Holly Hunt, now aged nine, was diagnosed with complex congenital heart disease and had to undergo three open heart surgeries and two other procedures to try and correct her tiny heart.

Her first surgery was when she was just 11 weeks old and her last operation at nine months old.

The Ladywood Primary pupil received a donor valve during her last surgery, which she will outgrow soon, and now faces more open heart surgery in the next few years.

Mum Tracy, 36, said: “Although it is a very daunting prospect for the whole family that Holly will need further open heart surgery, thanks to the skills and knowledge of the cardiac team at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the wonderful work the British Heart Foundation do, we are hoping this will be her last.”

Together with friends and family, Tracy set up fundraising group Holly’s Hearts and a sponsored walk last year raised £4,800 – and she is now putting her support behind the foundation’s Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, which is using pioneering stem cell research and developmental biology to work out how to repair or replace damaged heart muscles in as little as ten years time.

Although Holly will not directly benefit from the research, Tracy said that she knows the impact heart disease can have on a family and hopes this will stop other families suffering.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting to take part in our walk. Not only has heart disease affected our lives as a family, but almost every person taking part on the day seemed to be doing it not only for Holly, but for their own personal reasons too,” said Tracy.

Part of the inspiration for the research programme is that regeneration already occurs in some animals, such as zebrafish, which can regrow portions of their own hearts. The charity hopes that research may be able to make this possible in people too.

To raise the £50m needed, the charity is encouraging people across Erewash to support its Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.

The five-year fundraising campaign coincides with the BHF’s 50th anniversary. Call 0300 333 0333 or visit bhf.org.uk/mbh to order an appeal pack.