TINY tot Zander Symms has had a tough start in life.
Three major operations, a fitted pacemaker and countless trips to hospital have dominated the little South Yorkshire lad’s days.
But none of that has affected the beaming boy’s gorgeous smile - and now his parents are delighted he has reached his first birthday and his health is finally on the up.
Mum Cassie Symms, aged 29, and her husband Daniel, a 25-year-old electrician, from Dinnington, discovered their tiny baby had a hole in his heart when he was 19 days old.
Doctors sprang into action, carrying out tests and planning Zander’s treatment to ensure he survived the congenital heart defect.
Cassie and Daniel were told if the problem hadn’t been spotted he would might not have survived this long.
Now he has had major open heart surgery in Leeds to close the hole and a second operation to fit a pacemaker.
Cassie, who lives with Daniel, Zander and three-year-old daughter Avril on Clarence Street, said: “Zander is my little miracle.
“Looking at him now you would never know what he has been through. It’s incredible. He is now one and I have the doctors and their teams to thank for him being here to celebrate this.
“Had he not had surgery that might not have been the case. Zander’s condition could have been fatal.
“I don’t know what the future holds but what I do know is I will always be in debt to Leeds heart unit. I can’t thank them enough.”
Cassie is determined to give something back, and has been fundraising hard for two charities that have helped Zander.
Kitted out in fancy dress and pyjamas, Cassie and 17 friends and relatives walked seven miles from Wath to Rotherham, calling into shops and parks along the way.
They raised £226 for the Sick Children’s Trust - which provided free accommodation for Cassie and her family near the hospital when he was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary.
Next month Cassie will also throw herself out of a plane for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.
n To donate to Cassie’s skydive fund, visit www.justgiving.com/cas-skydive-for-CHSF. To add to her sponsored walk total, log-on to www.justgiving.com/charity-bed-walk.