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pounds 100,000 thanks for saving our little Evie; FUNDRAISING: Tycoon's grand-daughter needed operation after just eight days.

Byline: By Rebekah Oruye

BUSINESS tycoon George Davies was in town to visit Birmingham Children's Hospital, where surgeons saved the life of his grand-daughter Evie three years ago.

George, founder of Next, George at Asda and Per Una at Marks & Spencers, was accompanied by daughter Alex Miskin, son-in-law David and the couple's two children, Evie and 18-month-old Ellie.

The family were celebrating raising more than pounds 100,000 for the hospital's Intensive Care Unit, where staff cared for Evie when she was extremely ill.

As a baby, Evie developed a rare heart condition - truncus arteriosus with interrupted aortic arch.

The three-year-old was born eight weeks prematurely with the two large arteries coming out of her heart fused into one, meaning she could not get enough oxygen into her body. The tiny tot had to have her first major operation when just eight days old, then another at the age of eight months.

Her family from Bretforton in Worcestershire, travelled to Birmingham for Evie to have the vital corrective procedure.

Mum Alex said: "We were just shell-shocked when we first heard about Evie's heart condition and had to put our faith in the hands of doctors.

"The staff at the hospital were fantastic and now she's like any other normal child."

Consultant surgeon Bill Brawn performed the operation on Evie and said hers was one of the smallest hearts he has had to work on.

"It was a big risk as she was so tiny, weighing around 4Ib," he said. "Evie has a very rare condition which we only see two or three cases of a year and she will need to have more operations when she is older. " Evie's dad David added: "We couldn't thank them enough for what they did for Evie. As a family we decided to get involved with fund-raising for equipment the intensive care unit needed."

The family raised money through business contacts and sponsored events, with David taking part in the London 10K run.

Some of the money raised was used to buy an extra-corporeal life support (ECLS)machine,worth pounds 50,000, which replaces the function of the heart and lungs for severely ill cardiac patients.

It is the Intensive Care Unit's first ECLS. Senior sister Margaret Faley said: "Without any doubt the ECLS machine has led to the survival of many children - around 100 in UK.

Without it, kids who got very sick after open-heart surgery would have died.

"It wasn't right that families in the Midlands had to travel to Great Ormond Street in London for the nearest available ECLS machine."

George, now based in the Cotswolds, added: "It's not until something happens to your family that you appreciate the good work that hospitals do.

"Families in this area are lucky to have a world-class children's hospital on their doorstep. I have a lot of admiration for the staff and it made us realise how important it is to help these places."

The former Birmingham University student said he has always taken a keen interest in medical matters and in July this year he will be awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University.

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Life-saver: George Davies with grand-daughter Evie Miskin and consultant surgeon Bill Brawn. Picture: Neil Pugh-NP290109Geor-1
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 31, 2009
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