Former Gladiators presenter and Shooting Stars stalwart Ulrika Jonsson paid a surprise visit to Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital, to cheer up patients and raise awareness of the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Christmas Appeal.
Ulrika and her teenage daughter Bo – who was born with a congenital heart defect – visited the paediatric cardiac ward to hear the stories of young heart patients and meet some of the BHF’s leading researchers.
Ulrika is supporting the BHF’s Christmas Appeal, as she was once in the same position as the parents she met on the ward.
The charity aims to raise more than £500,000 towards research into congenital heart disease.
In 2000, Bo was born with a heart condition known as double inlet left ventricle, which meant she had only one working pumping chamber in her heart. Ulrika was told that in order to keep Bo alive, she would need a series of three operations, the first at just six days old.
Bo takes medication daily and her condition still has to be monitored.
Ulrika Jonsson said at the visit: “Bo is a healthy and active teenager now, but I still remember being given that devastating diagnosis that she had a heart condition and would need surgery just days after she was born.
“It was so inspiring to meet the little fighters on the ward and their families, and to hear about the fantastic research the BHF is undertaking in Bristol. Their work could truly transform the lives of thousands of children, including Bo.
“Congenital heart disease doesn’t discriminate – it can affect any child.”