A BABY born with just half a heart is defying all the odds as her parents look forward to their first holiday as a complete family.
Sophie Maxwell has just been declared fit to fly and in September, she’ll be jetting off to Salou, in Spain, with her mum Kerryanne, dad Ian, and big brothers Nathan, four, and Joshua Tansey, eight.
It’s been a long and hard road for the 19-month-old, who has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart condition that leaves the left ventricle severely underdeveloped.
At just five days old, she had her first open heart surgery, meaning she spent the first three weeks of her life on a ventilator. She was five weeks old before she could return home to Whiteleas Way, in South Shields.
The tot had another open heart surgery on April 24, last year, and the loving family is looking forward to celebrating the anniversary.
Kerryanne, 29, said: “She’ll need another heart surgery when she’s about four but her heart is functioning really well at the minute.
This is a big milestone for her and we’re just so proud of how far she’s come.Kerryanne Maxwell, Sophie’s mum
“She’s doing much better than the doctors thought she would, but development-wise she’s still a little behind. She’s only crawling and she’s smaller than other children her age.
“She was being fed through a tube until about a month ago, but we’re trying to feed her normally now and see how much weight she puts on.
“She’s doing really well. To think that this time last year, we were waiting to hear when her next heart surgery was going to be is unbelievable. She’s come so far.”
Now, Sophie has to attend a clinic every four months, where medics check her height, weight, and give her a heart scan and an ECG.
The family had tried to go on holiday together last year, but after doctors said Sophie couldn’t fly, she stayed behind with dad Ian, 38, a customer service advisor with npower, while Kerryanne and the boys flew to Majorca.
Kerryanne said: “We had booked up for the five of us to go and it was really disappointing when we found out Sophie couldn’t.
“Ian had to learn how to fit her feeding tube and I was on the phone five times a day checking that everything was OK.
“It was really hard to go and leave her behind and we’re so excited to finally be having our first holiday together as a family.
“It’s going to be great. The boys can’t wait to be able to play with Sophie in the pool and it’ll be the first time she’s even been in one – it’s too cold for her to go swimming here.
“This is a big milestone for her and we’re just so proud of how far she’s come.
“You wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with her, she’s always happy and smiling.”
The family also has a Facebook page, called Sophie’s Story, dedicated to tracking her progress.