It is the happy homecoming they feared they might never see – but battling Llana Qazi is now back in the loving arms of her overjoyed parents after proving she is a true ‘Easter miracle’.
The brave youngster spent months clinging onto life in an intensive care ward after undergoing a second heart transplant surgery at the age of just four.
Parents Mohammad and Shazeb Qazi, of Dean Road, South Shields, called on the South Tyneside community to pray for their daughter to stage another remarkable recovery as doctors provided round-the-clock care.
Now they feel their unflinching faith has been answered as Llana spends the Easter holidays back in the comforts of home.
Llana has spent her short life overcoming the odds after receiving her first heart transplant at the age of just nine months in February 2012.
But she faced a fresh challenge after being admitted back to hospital last November when her tiny body began to reject her donor heart.
We are making the most of every moment.Shazeb Qazi
She suffered two cardiac arrests and was placed at the top of the emergency organ transplant by doctors at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Within weeks, a suitable heart had been found – giving Llana another shot at a new life.
She has impressed doctors to such a degree that they have dubbed her a ‘little miracle’.
It is a fitting description, according to her close-knit family who are delighted to have her back by their side and are determined to make the most of every moment.
Her overjoyed mum, Shaz Qazi, said: “It is lovely to have her back home. It’s something we didn’t know would happen as she was so sick.
“She is doing good. She is a tough cookie. She is on high dosages of medication so she gets tired and doesn’t have much energy but it is just amazing to have her home.”
She added: “Easter is always a wonderful time anyway, with having family around.
“We are making the most of every moment.
“We make a big deal out of all of our time together.”
Mrs Qazi says the fighting four-year-old has stunned doctors with her rapid progress.
She added: “The doctors say she has been through so much but they are stunned by how she is doing. They say she is a little miracle.
“She is our Easter miracle. We are so grateful to all of the doctors, they are life-savers.”
The proud family are also eager to thank the South Tyneside community for rallying round at their time of need.
The Qazis have received floods of messages from well-wishers all over the borough and beyond.
Mrs Qazi said: “The customers at Frydays and members of the public have been brilliant.
“They are all still lighting candles for Llana and we have had lots of letters of support.
“It has been great to know we have had so many people thinking of us and Llana.”
Llana still requires heavy medication and regular trips back to the Freeman hospital as her body continues to adapt to her new heart.
Her immune system is so weak that she remains in isolation at home an is able to receive hugs and kisses from a select few allowed contact with her.
Llana’s big brother Ahmed, 18, is back home for the Easter holidays from university studies in Bradford, but has been unable to hold his precious sister or even stay under the same roof.
Mrs Qazi said: “She has to remain in isolation at the moment.
“Our son Ahmed is home from university but he is having to stay at a bed and breakfast.
“She can only have contact with certain people, but we are giving her enough hugs and kisses for everyone.”
Mrs Qazi knows her daughter – who turns five in May – will face a life-long health battle.
But she knows her little girl is ready to take on every hurdle that she may face, with the help of her adoring family.
Courageous girl is a brave fighter
Full of playful cheer and with a beaming smile that can light up any room, Llana Qazi seems no different to any other four-year-old.
But there is no doubt she is a born fighter – who has been forced to overcome more health setbacks in her early childhood than many people will face in a lifetime.
Her defiant spirit was been put to the ultimate test time after time, beginning when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which meant her heart muscles were not strong enough to work on their own, at just four months old.
Her family were told she needed a heart transplant and she was kept alive by a mechanical Berlin heart until a donor was found in February 2012.
Doctors said she had only a 50/50 chance of survival, but she pulled through – only to be hit by a major setback in February 2014 when her body began to reject her donor heart.
She spent weeks in intensive care but again bounced back, and was able to enjoy a fantastic third birthday party with her family.
But fleeting delight was replaced by despair when her transplant heart began to fail her again in November.
She spent almost five months being cared for at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Her heart stopped just hours after she was admitted to the wards and fears she would need a second transplant become a reality.
Spurred on her incredible courage, her family have never lost hope.
They remain grateful to the families who agreed to donate the hearts of their loved ones so that Llana can bring joy out of tragedy.