A courageous little girl who underwent two heart transplants by the age of four has battled back to health.
Brave youngster Llana Qazi is going from strength to strength and amazing her family with her outstanding recovery.
We met up with the little girl and her parents just a year on from Llana winning the Best of South Tyneside Child of Courage Award.
The six-year-old from Dean Road, South Shields, has even started at Keelmans Way School and is loving every minute of it.
That milestone shows just how far she has come, after spending months clinging onto life in an intensive care ward following a second heart transplant.
Llana has spent her short life overcoming the odds. She had her first heart transplant when she was just nine months old, in February 2012.
She’s happy and she goes out on the weekends to places like the beach with her dad. We’re really proud of her. It is all a blessing now because she was very poorly. But everything is going well and she’s come a long wayShazeb Qazi
But her tiny body began to reject her donor heart and she faced a fresh challenge after being admitted back to hospital last November.
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.
Her outstanding story saw her win the Child of Courage Award at last year’s Best of South Tyneside Awards and her proud parents Mohammad and Shazeb Qazi have said she is continuing to do well.
Mum Shazeb said: “Llana is doing really well, she has started school in Hebburn and loves it. She is still being tube-fed but is starting to taste things and experience flavours.
“She is happy and she goes out on the weekends to places like the beach with her dad.
“We are really proud of her. It is all a blessing now because she was very poorly. But everything is going well and she has come a long way.”
Following her surgery, Llana’s recovery impressed doctors so much, they dubbed her a ‘little miracle’.
She is now back at home and Llana has continued to develop. She has also been diagnosed with autism but has progressed so well, she has even started saying small words and phrases such as ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
Shazeb was full of praise for all the South Tyneside authorities who had showed wonderful support for Llana.
Shazeb added: “They have been great. They want to be involved and they have tried their best to give Llana every opportunity they think she should have.”
She described everyne connected to Llana’s schooling - from taxi drivers to support teachers - as “like a second family to her and we can’t thank them enough.”
Mum Shazeb said the Child of Courage award was a great way to look back and remember her achievements and urged the community to nominate other courageous children for the accolade this summer.
She said: “The award is a nice way to look back and see how far she has come. It was lovely to see all the community supporting her.
“I would recommend people putting children forward for the award, as it is so nice.”
This year The Best of South Tyneside awards have a headline sponsor of Siemens, and are being held in association with Northumbrian Water, JML, Port of Tyne, Barbour, Harlow Print and the Customs House as category sponsors.
The awards cover a range of categories and look to honour unsung stars from across the community at an awards night the Quality Hotel in Boldon on September 21.
The finals evening also feature the ever-popular Young Performer category, which is sponsored by Port of Tyne.
To nominate, send your entries by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to: Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, DH4 5RA.