THE fundraising family of a brave South Tyneside toddler given just a 10 per cent chance of survival before having vital heart transplant surgery are going the extra mile at the Great North Run for the hospital that saved her life.
Little Llana Qazi, now two, was given a new heart after an 11-month wait for a donor at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in February of last year.
She was kept alive by a mechanical Berlin heart after suffering from a condition called cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart muscles and meant her heart was not strong enough to work on its own.
She spent months in hospital before being allowed home in June 2012.
The cheery youngster has been given the gift of life thanks to the tireless support of her medical team – and her grateful parents and siblings are determined to raise vital cash and awareness for the hospital and encourage others to become donors and have the potential to save lives.
Mohammad Qazi, 52 and wife Shaz, 40, from Dean Road in South Shields, took part in the annual 13-miler last year along with sons Saad, 23 and Jassan, 21.
This year daughter Maria, 20, will be lacing up her running boots to join her mother and father on the starting line in aid of the Childrens Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).
Mrs Qazi said: “We raised more than £1,000 last year. We want to raise as much money and awareness as we can for the fund. We wil be doing the Great North Run for many more years.
Mr Qazi added: “There is no other place in the world like the Freeman Hospital. Nothing can compare with it, it is unique.
“Llana is doing very well now, she is a little cracker. We feel blessed.”
“We are so grateful for the help we were given. It can be hard to put into words how thankful you are, so that is why we decided to do the Great North Run for CHUF.
“We also want to appeal to people to become donors and help to save lives.”
The whole family have all signed up as organ donors themselves after seeing how it has been given precious Llana a second shot at life. It is hoped that in the near future, the couple’s other children, son Ahmed, 16 and daughter Zermeen 15 will join them on the Great North Run – with Llana one day becoming the final running mate.
While Llana still requires specialist care and attends Freeman Hospital every four to six weeks for check-ups, medical staff are delighted with the progress she is making.
Anyone who would like to donate to the family’s Great North Run bid, can donate at the family’s restaurant, Frydays, on East Smithy Street.