Penarth mum of heart-op teen hosts fundriaser
HEART OF GOLD: Karen Hughes is holding a fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation - her daugter, Ellie, has had three open heart surgeries.
A PENARTH mum, whose teenage daughter has undergone three open heart surgeries since she was born on Christmas Day 17 years ago, is holding a fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation in honour of the charity's "phenomenal work".
Ellie Hughes was born on December 25, 1995, and doctors immediately told her parents, Karen and Anthony, that she needed her pulmonary valve replaced.
She had her first operation five days later, a second at 18 months old, and her most recent one in July this year - and she will need more in the future.
Mum Karen, a staff nurse at Llandough, organised a fundraiser at the Old Penarthians club when Cardiff and Vale College health and social student Ellie was first born.
And she said that following Ellie's summer surgery, they had decided to do it again.
"The British Heart Foundation has supported us and been brilliant ever since we got in touch," she said.
"You meet so many people who are themselves, or through a friend or family member, affected by heart disease or some heart related issue. It's as prolific as cancer unfortunately."
The family, who live on Cowslip Drive, have already raised £500 in ticket sales at the hospital and through friends and family.
Karen, daughter of Penarth historian Alan Thorne, said they hope to raise around £1,000 through the event - and that the response from the community and local businesses so far had been amazing.
"I have lived in Penarth my whole life and am fortunate to know so many generous people. I want to thank them all," she said.
Aside from initial shortness of breath and having to take iron and aspirin daily, Ellie - who has two beloved dogs, Alfie and Miley - said the limitations of her condition were few and far between.
"My aim is to start at the gym in January," said the former St Cyres pupil.
"When I had the operation they had to break my sturnum and they told me to give it six months to re-strengthen. But come the new year, there will be no stopping me!"
Her mum added: "Ellie has been amazing through this whole thing. The first few years were scary times because she was always ill it seemed. and we were devastated when we found out about the defect.
"And every surgery is scary because things can always go wrong - but things have gotten easier and we have had fantastic support from the cardiac departments. There is always somone on the end of the phone if you need them."
Ellie had her latest surgery at the Bristol Heart Institute, which Karen praised for their "first class care".
* The fundraiser will be held on at the Old Pens on Saturday (October 27) from 7pm. Tickets for the heart-themed disco and raffle are £5. They will also be available on the door.
* Among the local businesses who have donated to the raffle are Curves, the Glendale Hotel, the Manor House Hotel, St Andrews Major Golf Club, JC Auto's, the Station Hotel, Blu Hair Design and the Bear's Head.
*For more information on the event or to buy tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07503184998.