HeartSWell started as a grassroots campaigning group in 1986. Its aim was to make cardiac surgery available in the South West.
Until this time, between 600 and 700 patients each year travelled to Bristol or London for surgery. Our founder, the late Monica Pearce, was determined that families shouldn’t have to experience the additional stress and upheaval (and great expense) that travelling long distances and staying away from home can cause. Especially given the worry and concern inevitable alongside the diagnosis of a heart condition.
Following many years of campaigning, including a petition which was signed by 195,000 people (a significant achievement in the days before online petitions), an announcement was made in May 1994 in the House of Commons that cardiac surgery would be available at Derriford Hospital.
Far from our work being done, the newly established charity (then the Plymouth and District Cardiology Foundation Trust) set about looking at the accommodation which would be available for relatives and friends travelling long distances. Many had experienced high-quality facilities in Bristol and London, and wanted the same for those coming to the new cardiac unit at Derriford.
In April 1996, we launched an appeal to build a hospital hotel and in 2001, after raising over £700,000, HeartSWell Lodge opened.
HeartSWell Lodge continues to provide high quality accommodation in a relaxed and informal ‘home from home’ setting, close to Derriford Hospital. It is available for relatives or carers of anyone staying at Derriford (not just cardiac patients). For more information, please visit their website.
HeartSWell South West remains committed to providing relief for cardiac patients and their carers throughout the South West.