When little Libby Freestone stands alongside the Lord Mayor to open the 2011 Sheffield Santa Jog, it will mark the end of a difficult year.
This summer the four-year-old underwent major heart surgery – now she is looking forward to supporting the British Heart Foundation with her grateful family.
Doctors discovered two holes in her heart and a faulty valve when Libby was just three weeks old.
Her parents, John and Cheryl, had to come to terms with the fact she would require major open-heart surgery.
In June the family headed to Leeds General Infirmary for Libby’s operation.
They expected an eight-hour wait for news but after five hours got a call to say Libby was out of surgery.
John, aged 33, from Cantley, Doncaster, said: “I was so scared. We had been told if you get an early call it could mean there was a decision to be made which would require our consent.”
But they found Libby recovering well.
“It was terrible to see our little girl lying there after major surgery, but this was mixed with unbelievable joy she had come through and was OK.”
Libby even awoke with the words, “I’ve been dreaming about princesses!”
John said: “Libby is getting back to being a normal four-year-old, she’s very compassionate and a real people person.”
Cheryl, 32, said hearing the words: “There’s something wrong with your daughter’s heart,” will stay with her forever.
“We’ve been on autopilot for the last three years and remained strong for Libby, it’s only afterwards it hits you.
“It makes you realise what’s important in life and puts things into perspective.”
The whole family including sister Jasmine, will take part in the BHF Sheffield Santa Jog on December 11.
Entry to the mile-long run is £10, including a Santa suit to keep. Children go free. Call 01623 624558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join in.
n Heart unit battle boost: P18