A MOTHER whose son was born with serious heart conditions which will shorten his life is backing a charity which has helped her family.

Sacha Eneke’s six-year-old son Rio is not expected to live past 30 as there is currently no cure for the problems he has.

Part of the youngster’s heart is undeveloped and it also points towards the right instead of the left.

Research is the only answer to give children like Rio the best chance possible to lead a full and long life.

Ms Eneke, 27, from Hove, is calling on people to donate to a festive appeal being run by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

She said: “The BHF is a charity that’s close to our hearts because if it wasn’t for its vital research, my little boy may not be here today.

“I was devastated when I was told that Rio might not make it through the night when he was first born, and I couldn’t even hold him for the first two weeks of his life.

“It didn’t feel real but I had to stay strong for Rio.

“His lips were blue, he looked swollen, and as he got older, he kept trying to rip the feeding tubes out of his nose.

“All I could do was be by his side.

“He’s now six and he’s much healthier but doctors have warned me it’s unlikely he will live past 30.

“Thanks to the BHF, I’m confident that more treatments will be discovered.

“I have to remain optimistic that a discovery will be made otherwise the prospect of losing Rio will consume my entire life.

“Without the BHF’s research, it’s hard to have hope for the future but I feel truly blessed to have such an inspirational fighter to call mine.

“I was told by doctors that little things like running would be difficult.

“I know he will never be the person on the football pitch scoring the goals, but he is healthy enough to run around with his friends and enjoy his childhood.

“For that I’m truly grateful.”

Each year about 4,000 babies like Rio are diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in the UK.

This works out as 12 babies every day with many more diagnoses made later in life.

The BHF aims to raise more than half a million pounds over the Christmas period to help pay for pioneering research and treatment into a wide range of heart conditions.

BHF director of fundraising Amanda Bringans said: “Sadly, many tiny hearts like Rio’s will be struggling this Christmas.

“That is why we urgently need everyone’s support.

“This will help us find new ways to prevent and support families having to go through this heartache.

“With people’s support we can continue to fund the vital research needed to help keep these tiny hearts beating.”

Anyone wanting to make a donation to the appeal is asked to visit christmas.bhf.org.uk.