“WITHOUT him, I wouldn’t have my son.”

A cardiac surgeon has been praised for his life-saving surgeries on a four-year-old Southampton boy.

With a speciality in paediatric and congenital cardiac surgery, Markku Kaarne has been nominated as a Hospital Hero for the Daily Echo’s Readers’ Choice Award.

With the nomination period beginning to draw to a close, 37-year-old Emma Cooper, of Lordshill, has told the Echo how Mr Kaarne has performed three open-heart surgeries on her son Charlie.

Charlie was diagnosed with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome, which means the left ventricle of his heart, never formed.

Emma said: “This man is our hero and without him, I wouldn’t have my son. We owe him our lives.

“Markku is not a man of many words but he is the most amazing man ever. I could go on and on talking about him but there are not enough hours in the day.

“Charlie was diagnosed with his condition when he was born, and Markku has actually performed three open-heart surgeries on my son in his four years of life.

“The first was at three days old and the second was when he was just five-months-old.

“The most recent was last month, and Charlie now has his blood redirected to keep his heart working.”

On February 7, Markku performed a nine-hour open-heart operation on Charlie.

Emma added: “Charlie’s dad Gary and his sibling Bailey are both so grateful for what Markku has done.

“He isn’t the kind of person who wants the congratulations, he just sees it as part of his job.

“After the last surgery, I ran to him at the hospital to give him the biggest hug. He always checks in and just gives a thumbs up, he doesn’t seek anything more.”

Markku joins other nominations for the Readers’ Choice Award as a Hospital Hero.

To nominate your own hero who has gone above and beyond, email aaron.shaw@dailyecho.co.uk or call 02380 424538.

Alternatively, write to Aaron Shaw, Newspaper House, Test Lane, Redbridge, Southampton, SO16 9JX.

The winner will be announced at St Mary’s Stadium on March 28.