‘Remarkable’ Sophie Maxwell is celebrating her second birthday today – and the brave girl has her family bursting with pride.
Sophie was born with half a heart, and had open heart surgery five days after being born, meaning she spent the first three weeks of her life on a ventilator.
She had more open heart surgery last April, and has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart condition that leaves the left ventricle severely underdeveloped.
Parents Kerryane and Ian, of Whiteleas Way, South Shields, feared she would never see her first birthday.
But as Sophie celebrates turning two today, mum Kerryane, 29, is counting her blessings at the progress she has made.
She said: “It’s a day we didn’t think we would see.
For Sophie to be as well as she is now is just remarkableKerryanne Maxwell
“It has been a very challenging time, but she’s doing really well at the moment.
“Sophie has come really far, especially considering that when I first found out about her condition at 24 weeks pregnant, doctors offered us a termination more than one time.
“For Sophie to be as well as she is now is just remarkable.
“A lot of kids that have the condition she has don’t survive, so we know we’re lucky to have her.”
Sophie is set to celebrate her birthday with her family, while she will also have a party at home on Saturday with family and friends.
Little Sophie suffered some bad luck recently when she broke her wrist in two places after her brother fell on her accidentally. But despite all of her trials and tribulations, she is rarely without a smile on her face.
Mum Kerryanne added: “We’re going to spoil her rotten, and she doesn’t know what she’s getting.
“The main thing, though, is that we will spend the day together as a family.
“Sophie has just learned to walk, and it’s great to see her living life to the full.
“She’s happy all the time, and even with her broken wrist, she always has a smile on her face.”
Sophie lives at home with her parents and brothers Nathan, four, and Joshua, nine.
Despite her strong progress, though, she will have to undergo further surgery in the future.
Kerryanne said: “Sophie will need more open heart surgery when she is four or five, and if that fails, she will go on the list for a heart transplant.”
After today’s landmark, Sophie will look forward to her first holiday, having been declared fit and well to fly to Salou, in Spain, in September with her family.