SHE’s going to school! Like thousands of other four-year-olds across South Yorkshire, adorable Niamh Coyne has her lunch packed, her pencil case fully stocked and today walks through the school gates for the first time.
Less than a year ago all this seemed like a distant dream for mum Hannah Wilkins, 25, and dad Rob Coyne, 31. Last October little Niamh was preparing to have her second liver transplant, and her chances of survival were bleak.
But the operation worked - and after months of physiotherapy, recurring infections and countless trips to the doctor, the youngster from Totley was given the all-clear which means she can come into contact with other children for the first time in her short life.
That means today she will start school at St Thomas of Canterbury Primary, in Meadowhead, Sheffield.
Hannah told The Star: “Niamh is so excited. She can’t wait for school, she has her uniform and she loves putting it on.
“It’s crazy really how far she’s come. I can’t believe she has reached this stage.”
Shortly after Niamh was born she caught a terrible infection, undergoing life-saving surgery when she was just days old.
For the next two years she spent virtually every day in hospital, never spending a night at home.
Just two years ago The Star published an appeal for a life-saving liver donation for the struggling little tot.
That operation didn’t work - but the second transplant, in Birmingham last October, went much better, and now Niamh is looking forward to a healthier future.
Hannah said: “She is doing really well. She has got her one-year MOT in Birmingham coming up in October.
“Hopefully she will keep well. We fully expect her to have problems on the way, but we will enjoy it while we can.
“We have worries about how she reacts to tummy bugs - but she has had a liver transplant to give her life, so we will enjoy that and take all that comes with it.”
Niamh’s incredible progress means Hannah is able to go back to work for the first time since her daughter was born, and she has started a job in the genetics department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Hannah said: “It’s a big change for us. My mum helps a lot, looking after her, but now she is doing well I can get back to work.”