Sussex parents face six week fundraising fight to save unborn child with half a heart

Tap to watch a video report by ITV News Meridian's James Dunham

The parents of an unborn child say they have just six weeks to save her life after being told their daughter has a rare heart condition.

Rob Velez and Zofia Fenrych who live in Forest Row in Sussex are appealing to the public's help to raise £2.5 million to cover the cost of treating their baby who they've named Dorothea.

The disorder, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, means Dorothea is missing the left side of her heart with the NHS unable to operate on before birth.

Surgery after delivery would see a survival rate of between 5-10% but Rob and Zofia want to give their daughter the best chance and are desperate for her to receive specialist surgery in Texas.

The scan of Dorothea revealed the heart defect Credit:

Rob, a former U.S. serviceman, said: "If Dorothea can get this surgery in the next five weeks she has every chance of living a normal life, without it she has very little chance.'

"I have been fortunate enough to devote much of my life to philanthropy, and it feels strange to have to ask for help in this way, but there is clearly no other way to get Dorothea the surgery she so desperately needs.'

"We are throwing everything at this. I'm asking everyone I've ever worked for, everyone I've ever met, to help."

The procedure to essentially rewire Dorothea's veins and arteries has a survival rate of 87% if the surgery can take place before Zofia's due date in July.

Rob and Zofia want their two-year old daughter Bathsheba to meet Dorothea Credit:

Bexhill based children's charity Tree of Hope, which supports families fundraise for children with healthcare needs not covered by the NHS, is providing a platform for Rob and Zofia to reach their target.

Gill Gibb, Tree of Hope CEO said, "This is the first time we've been asked to help with fundraising for an unborn child but obviously we are delighted to be doing so and wish them the best of luck in hitting their target.

"The situation has evolved and three operations are needed as well as an operation that Dorothea will need to have whilst still in the womb.

"This is groundbreaking, really delicate surgery that no surgeon in the UK can actually undertake so the family have to go abroad, they have go to Texas to do what they need to save Dorothea's life."

  • Watch: Rob Velez explains his motivation for fighting to save his daughter

Texas Children's Hopsital have told the couple that the critical surgery will need to take place in week 28 and week 32.

Giving Rob and Zofia just weeks to raise enough money to have the first of three surgeries needed to save her life.

To find out more about the fundraiser click here.