*UPDATE: The ball is now taking place on Saturday 30 March 2019*

One of the best decisions James and I made when I was pregnant, was to join an NCT antenatal class. Although I wasn’t a massive fan at the time (sitting with strangers on uncomfortable chairs, in a room that’s too hot, talking about something that terrifies you, isn’t all that fun), I ended up making seven amazing friends who have kept me sane as I navigate this crazy new world called motherhood.

My “new” seven lovely friends all had their babies within five weeks of JJ being born, and now JJ has seven lovely baby friends too. One of his friends, Emmeline, was born just two days after he was. Emmeline is an amazing little human – her personality just beams out of her, and she’s an absolute fighter. Before turning one, Emmy had to have three heart surgeries. This must have been terrifying for her parents, and our friends, Sasha and Jack, but they stayed positive throughout.

To say thank you to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, who provided vital support throughout the family’s hospital stays, and raise some cash for this important charity, Sasha and Jack are holding a ball at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Leeds on Saturday 2nd February. That just happens to be my birthday weekend, so I’m using it as an excuse to get dolled up with my girlfriends and have a night partying – all for a good cause!

I’ve posted the details below in case you fancy finding out more about Emmeline’s story and want to know how you can buy tickets for what will be The Social Occasion of 2019.

Have a ball and raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund

A Batley couple is holding a black tie ball to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at Leeds General Infirmary, after their daughter had to undergo three hearts surgeries before her first birthday.

Emmeline White was born on 3 October 2017 and diagnosed with a heart murmur. This proved to be three different heart defects which resulted in her being transferred by ambulance to Leeds Intensive Care Unit when she was just five days old.

The cardiology team at Leeds performed heart surgery on Emmeline on her eighth day, and although she recovered well, she suffered nerve damage to her vocal cords which meant that she could not feed.

Sasha White, Emmeline’s mother, says: “With the support of the amazing nurses and doctors at Leeds General Infirmary and a lot of sleepless nights, Emmeline finally had the last of her wires removed and was ready to come home with her Katie Bear (the charity’s mascot), medal and certificate as a reminder of what she’d overcome.”

Since her first surgery, Emmeline has returned to hospital twice for two further surgeries, the last of which was open heart surgery on 2 February 2018.

Emmeline at 4 months old when she had open heart surgery

Mrs White continues: “As always, she has amazed everyone with her strength and resilience. Congenital Heart Disease isn’t an easy fix and she will always require monitoring. However, for now, aged one, she’s happy and healthy. When the time comes for future intervention, we know that the amazing team at LGI and the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund will be there to help her through.

“Through every step of this journey the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund have been there to support Emmeline and our family. So many of the machines that helped keep Emmeline going bore the symbol of the CHSF as their fundraising provides machines sorely needed by the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit. The charity also provided Jack and me with a room at the hospital so we could be at her side anytime, day or night.

Jack White, Emmeline’s father, adds: “Being onsite made all the difference in the world during those turbulent few weeks when Emmeline was fighting for her life. There is so much that the CHSF does to help make lives easier for children and their families on the ward. By fundraising we want to thank the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and help them in their mission to support children and families with Congenital Heart Disease. We are holding the ball on the anniversary of Emmeline’s last surgery, and hope people will join us in raising money for this vital charity, and also have a good time.”

The ball is at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wellington Street, Leeds, on Saturday 2 February 2019, 7pm. Tickets are £50 each and include: red carpet arrival, sparkling drinks reception, three course meal, half a bottle of wine per person, coffee and mints, and a disco. You can purchase tickets for the event by visiting the website: https://www.youngheartsball.com/.

Emmeline celebrating her 1st birthday

About the CHSF: Based at the Leeds General Infirmary, the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund covers the regions of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. Around 450 babies, children and adults from these regions need open heart surgery every year. We aim to ensure these patients have the best possible care and to help their families in whatever way needed during their stay in hospital. Our work is overseen by a board of Trustees ‐ made up of clinical staff, parents and business leaders. Find out more: https://chsf.org.uk/