Campaigners have failed in their long battle to save a Children's Heart Centre in Leicester.
The unit at Glenfield Hospital carries out hundreds of operations on new-born babies with rare heart defects every year.
But it is now to close due to a reorganisation being led by a national NHS committee.
Staff at the hospital pride themselves on being one of the few places in the country to provide life-long care for heart patients, which continues as they reach adulthood.
It is one of only two specialist child heart centres in the Midlands; the other is based at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
Many parents of patients at Glenfield said during their campaigning that the unit was vital and should be saved at all costs.
Some - particularly those in isolated areas of the East Midlands - fear a much longer journey of up to three hours in order to get to the specialist treatment they need.
Today's decision was delayed by almost a year because of a challenge to the legality of the consultation process.
Leicester will not stop providing surgery immediately as plans to implement the new streamlined service are still being developed.
It is understood it will continue to provide the specialist procedures throughout 2013.