Heart felt plea from Peterborough mum for life saving kit

Gemma Saunders, a defibrillator fundraiser with her sons  Ben Saunders(13) and Bradley Venni (10) EMN-190307-090204009
Gemma Saunders, a defibrillator fundraiser with her sons Ben Saunders(13) and Bradley Venni (10) EMN-190307-090204009

A mum raised tens of thousands of pounds to install life saving defibrillators across Peterborough after her son was diagnosed with the same potentially fatal heart condition as she has.

A mum raised tens of thousands of pounds to install life saving defibrillators across Peterborough after her son was diagnosed with the same potentially fatal heart condition as she has.

Gemma Saunders was born with Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) - but was not diagnosed until she was in her 20s. But four years ago her son, Bradley, was also diagnosed with it after it is believed his heart stopped.

Bradley, who is now 10, needed to stay in hospital for a couple of days while he recovered.

Since then, Gemma (35) has set up her own charitable fund, Gemma’s Hearts, which has raised enough money to install 16 defibrillators in and around Peterborough - and she has nearly raised enough money for two more, with each costing about £1,300.

Gemma, from Yaxley, has also had a brain tumour removed in the four years since Bradley collapsed at home.

She said: “When I started, I just wanted to raise money for one at Bradley’s school. We managed to do that in three of four weeks and before I knew it, I was raising money for other ones.

“We also put on training sessions for the community and staff when we install them.”

Along with LQTS, Bradley and Gemma both have holes in their hearts.

Having LQTS means sudden loud noises could speed their heart up, which could lead to a potentially fatal cardiac arrest, with a defibrillator offering a life saving solution.

Gemma said: “The defibrillators may never be used, but they are worth their weight in gold, just knowing they are there.

“We have to maintain them too, so when they are used we have to pay for new pads. The pads and battery also need replacing after a number of years, which costs money.

“We have a great team at Gemma’s Hearts, who do a lot of work.

“We hold lots of fundraising events through the year.

“We will be at the Dogsthorpe Fire Station Open Day this Saturday between 11am and 3pm.

“We are also holding a Race Night at Yaxley Football Club on Saturday evening.”

Bradley’s uncle, Paul Wells, will also be joining in the fundraising efforts. Paul is taking on the Sherwood Forest half marathon next month, despite suffering a stroke recently. He had to spend three months off work - but the 30 year old is now in training for the challenge. He said: “I really wanted to do something, as these defibrillators can save lives.” To sponsor Paul, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gemma-saunders

The race night starts at 6.30pm, with tickets costing £5. Money raised will be split between Gemma’s Hearts and the Yaxley U11 Reds Football team.

For more information about Gemma’s Hearts, and how to help support their fundraising efforts, visit www.gemmashearts.info