Bradford mum “forever grateful” for life-saving children’s charity, and requests people to donate this Ramadan so other families can get the help and support needed

Six-year-old Sawda was born with congenital heart disease & had her first open heart surgery at just 11-days old. Her most-recent operation took 13-hours.

Six-year-old Sawda was born with congenital heart disease and had her first open heart surgery at just 11-days old. Her most-recent operation took 13-hours.

Now her mum, Attika, is asking for life-saving donations over Ramadan towards Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF).

She hopes her daughter Sawda’s story, will inspire Asian Express readers to help fund the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit (LCHU) – which CHSF has supported for well over 30 years.

The LCHU has a world-class reputation and helps local babies born with heart disease, almost one-fifth of which are from the South Asian population. One of those was young Sawda who is now six-years old. Her mum Attika says she is “forever grateful” for the charity and Unit’s support.

Attika was 16-weeks pregnant when she found out that Sawda would be born with congenital heart disease (CHD). She had multiple heart defects including Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).

Her daughter’s heart condition was too complicated to be corrected fully, and Sawda had open heart surgery in Leeds at just 11-days old.

Attika said: “We were told to hope for the best. The surgeon who performed her operation said they didn’t know how she made it out from theatre alive. They thought they would be coming out with bad news.”

One day after her surgery, Sawda was off the ventilator and the procedure had started to show it was working. Her oxygen levels increased, up to 90%, and Sawda went home just 14 days after surgery.

She was subsequently seen regularly by the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, and had many ups and downs in that period including more heart surgery in 2016. It was decided Sawda needed surgery yet again in 2021.

“9th September 2021 was the day Sawda was going to be operated on once again,” Attika recalls.

“We waited for 13 hours to find out if she was going to make it. She did make it, and I was hoping and praying that this surgery would give her a good chance at life.

Sawda went back to school in November. Mum says: “She’s now really excited to be able to participate in classes like PE and she’s the happiest I’ve ever seen her.

“As she got breathless so easily, she used to hate going to school in a pram, but she walks to school now.

“She will need more surgery in various stages of her life, but none like the surgery she had last year.”

Donations this Ramadan could help save other children like Sawda.

CHSF provides life-saving medical equipment for the hospital, and also pays for heart monitoring kits which can used once the patient has been discharged. It is funded purely through public donations.

The charity also focuses on providing parent accommodation and family care, to help support mums and dads who are coming to terms with their child’s diagnosis:

“CHSF told me they had accommodation in the hospital that I could use because I lived far away, and my daughter would have to stay a while in the hospital. The accommodation was a great help – especially during the days she was critical.

“Welcomes Packs are a sweet gesture from CHSF, especially when you come to hospital in a hurry, and you don’t bring much with you.”

CHSF also provides a dedicated family support worker, Sarah Cherry, and Attika adds: “Sarah really helped me cope when I was told Sawda wasn’t going to make it.

“She just listened when I was at my lowest. If I didn’t have Sarah that day, I don’t know what I would have done.”

“We are forever grateful for every person we have met through this journey. Please give what you can to CHSF over Ramadan and help families like mine.”

Sharon Milner, the CEO of CHSF said: “The world-class facilities at the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit story have been supported by CHSF since 1988 but sadly, the fact remains that poorly children with critical heart conditions are born every day in our region.”

“Almost 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect, so please help us to continue saving the lives of young heart patients like Sawda by sending a charitable donation over Ramadan.”

To donate to Children’s Heart Surgery Fund over Ramadan and Eid, visit