Leon Montanari was born with a condition that meant he needed a heart transplant at 10 months old. Despite having to spend a lot of time in and out of hospital during his life, he was a happy, typically mischievous boy with a generous nature.
Despite advances in the care of transplant patients, Leon passed away in 2009 aged 13 and his mum, Julie, wanted to do something that would serve as a fitting memorial to him whilst also giving recognition to the excellent care given to him by the medical and nursing staff in the Paediatric Cardiology Department University Hospital of Wales.
Julie launched The Leon Heart Fund as a means of supporting children and families who attend the Paediatric Cardiology Department while they are undergoing treatment in hospital.
Julie said: “When Leon was in hospital, he used to get quite upset seeing some of the other children on his ward on their own without their parents. I explained that not everyone could afford to travel back and forth all the time, and he had the idea to find a way of helping.
“We started to fundraise, and after Leon passed away, I decided to establish the fund as an official charity to make Leon’s wishes come true.”
As well as supporting families, the Fund has enabled Leon’s room to be furnished and equipped within the new Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales. Leon’s room was opened on 29th October 2015 with friends, family and staff in attendance.
Ospreys and Wales International rugby player, Duncan Jones, patron of the Leon Heart Fund also joined the family for the special opening.
Julie said: “It’s lovely to see Leon’s room fitted out and furnished. The sofas and Smartboard screen in the room will allow parents and families to have some quiet time together.
“The room also gives Doctors a space where they can spend time with families discussing their child’s condition or needs in comfortable, friendly surroundings.”
David Hanks, Head of Operations and Delivery for Acute Child Health said: “I’d like to thank Julie and all those who have contributed to the Leon Heart Fund for fitting out this room. The space will prove invaluable to those who need to spend some quiet time discussing their child’s condition.”