A YOUNG woman who owes her life to a specialist hospital unit is planning a charity walk to raise funds with every beat of her heart.

Sophie Foster of Thirsk had a live-saving heart replacement at the Children’s Heart Unit in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital when she was just 15-months-old.

Now, aged 20, she wants to give something back and is planning to tackle the Lyke Wake Walk for the The Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).

Sophie has set herself an ambitious fundraising target of £108,000 which roughly represents £1 for every heartbeat for the duration of the 40-mile walk which she hopes to complete in 20-hours.

The linear route runs from Osmotherley across the North York Moors to finish at Ravenscar, and being a keen hill-walker, Sophie said it represented the perfect challenge.

She added: “The idea is that my transplanted heart, which was carried out by dedicated surgeons and constantly cared for and maintained by devoted doctors and nurses, is the focus and driving force behind securing the funds.

“This money is desperately needed for the unit to access the all important pieces of equipment, supportive services and facilities, that make children and their families’ stay at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital all the more bearable.”

Sophie added: “I owe my life and constant support to this team and this is my way of ensuring that further funding is available for CHUF to continue their life-saving operations and family support, so that every child along with their family that enters the Freeman Hospital, probably apprehensive of their future, will one day walk out with a smile and live a full life.”

Sophie, who is studying to become a nurse, came up with the idea of completing the walk after being told that she must take a year’s medical deferment from her course.

She needs constant monitoring by the heart unit team but said she felt the need to fill the time off her nursing course with something useful.

She said: “Knowing that I was going to have at least a year’s time to fill, I wanted to do something worthwhile, yet challenging, something which would benefit a greater good; a cause.”

Sophie, who works for The British Heart Foundation in Thirsk, is set to tackle the walk on June 14 this year.

She has set up a fundraising page and donations can be made at justgiving.com