Ria, 14, organises Syston protest march in bid to save Glenfield heart unit
A teenager has organised a protest march in her fight to help save children's heart surgery at Glenfield Hospital.
Ria Pahwa, 14, is hoping at least 70 people will join the demonstration, on Friday, to show support for the centre which saved her life hours after she was born.
Ria, from Rushey Mead, said she was determined to fight a decision to cut the number of hospitals in England providing surgery for children born with heart problems.
The number of heart surgery centres will fall from 11 to seven, with Glenfield one of those earmarked for closure, following an NHS review of the service.
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Ria said: "I hope Glenfield didn't fix my heart just for this devastating decision to break it. I will not give up. The decision to close the heart centre is wrong."
Ria, who has had several major heart surgery operations at the hospital and suffered a stroke when she was 11, said: "I want to get out there and save the unit.
"People there helped me and I will do all I can to help them."
Ria's mother, Vira, said: "This is to help children such as Ria.
"I wouldn't have my daughter if it wasn't for Glenfield. She was only eight hours old when doctors discovered a serious heart defect and had to operate.
"I don't think children like her will survive if the service isn't there any more.
"We are doing all we can to help support the fight to keep the children's heart centre."
Ria's uncle, Raj Popat, is also backing the youngster.
The march will begin at his shop, Syston Jewellers, in Melton Road, and make its way to Syston police station then back to his new shop, Applejacs, which is also in Melton Road.
Mr Popat, who has had special heart-shaped biscuits for marchers when they finish, said: "Ria means everything to me. She wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Glenfield.
"I am just doing my bit to draw attention to the campaign.
"The more support there is, the more chance there is of saving the centre."
Anyone can join the march, which is due to begin at noon on Friday.
Among those taking part will be Gill Smart, one the founding members of the Leicestershire charity, Heart Link, which funded the specialist Ecmo unit. This treats critically-ill patients whose organs have been damaged, but is also due to transfer to Birmingham.
She said: "We are very grateful to Ria. This is such a good way of making people aware of what is going on.
"People are still very concerned about it and I think it is beginning to hit home what it will actually mean if the service closes."
Mrs Smart, from Mountsorrel, said: "It is so important people sign our online petition.
"We need 100,000 signatures to try to get the matter debated in Parliament."
So far, more than 58,500 people have supported the petition.
To sign the petition go to: