HOSPITALS can be daunting places for even the bravest of grown ups.

But for young hearts, they can be terrifying.

That’s why an Oxfordshire charity campaigning to keep children’s heart surgery in Oxfordshire has issued a desperate plea for toys and DVDs.

The Young Hearts charity hopes they will help distract children while they undergo cardiac treatment at Oxford Children’s Hospital.

Campaigners are also hoping to keep awareness of the heart surgery issue in the spotlight ahead of a final decision later this year.

The Government has consulted on the future of children’s heart services across the country, proposing fewer, larger centres operating on more children.

Young Hearts, a charity set up by parents of children with heart conditions, was contacted by staff at the Oxford hospital when the DVD player used in the echocardiogram room broke.

An echocardiogram is also known as a cardiac ultrasound, and is used to look for cardiac disease or conditions.

Nurses found the DVD player a useful tool in keeping children’s minds occupied while they undergo the daunting, but painless, treatment.

Maria Crocker is chairman of Young Hearts and the parent of a child who has a life-threatening heart condition.

She said the DVD player was essential when her son David, nine, who has a problem with his aortic valve, was treated.

She said: “It’s not a painful procedure but it can be quite scary for the children.

“Having the DVD on works. It obviously makes them nice and calm. It keeps them still and takes their mind off what is going on. I know with my son, it was really useful.”

Paediatric heart surgery was suspended at the JR last year but the hospital formed a partnership with Southampton, where surgeons still operate on children.

Four options are on the table, but only one – Option B – includes surgery at Southampton.

If this is approved, it would mean key services for young heart patients can stay at the John Radcliffe, with the possibility of less complex surgery resuming in Oxford later. The consultation has closed and the NHS is deciding which of the four options to pick.

Mrs Crocker said the charity was cautiously hopeful the final decision, due later this year, will include Southampton and Oxford.

She said: “We’re trying to stay as positive as we can because the other scenario, where we lose surgery in Oxford forever, doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Last month the Royal Brompton in Chelsea, London, was given permission to seek a High Court judicial review into what it claimed was a ‘deeply flawed’ consultation process. If you would like to donate age appropriate children’s DVDs send them to Maria Crocker, 16 Colne Drive, Berinsfield OX10 7PE