Pippa Wood weighed just 1lb 4oz at birth and spent the first six months in intensive care at the Jessop Wing, during which time she received 17 blood transfusions and underwent nearly 50 X-rays and scans, 10 eye exams and laser eye surgery.
The nine-year-old, from Norton Lees, pulled through but has chronic lung disease, which doctors told her parents Robin and Jennie meant she would struggle to play sport.
Her fighting spirit has continued to serve her well, however, and she has just racked up a century of junior parkruns – covering 200km in the process over the last couple of years.
The story has led to a lot of comments from readers on The Star’s Facebook page, many of which have described Pippa as an inspiration.
Sarah Kates said: “Congratulations Pippa, what an inspiration you are.”
Kay Underwood added: “Well done Pippa!”
Katie McDonnagh posted: “Such a great story - well done Pippa.”
Martin Cotton said he had “amazing respect” for Pippa.
Dad Robin said: “When Pippa was born, we were told she would have paper lungs which would make it really hard to exert herself at sport. I remember one doctor joking that she would be OK day to day but wouldn’t be running any marathons.
“She’s really proved the doctors wrong, and we’re so proud of what she’s achieved. She was a miracle baby and, looking back at photos from after she was born, where she’s a tiny thing covered in tubes and wires, it’s amazing to think how far she’s come.”
Pippa completed her 2km junior runs at Graves Park, where she has also finished a handful of 5km adult parkruns, and where her six-year-old brother Sam has also passed the 100 mark for junior runs.
She remains prone to respiratory infections, and in the last year has also undergone two serious operations to prevent stomach acid building up in her lungs, but Robin told how she refuses to let her health problems stand in her way.
Robin himself is no slouch, with the 44-year-old having run two marathons and two ultra-marathons, but he said he has ‘no doubts’ Pippa will one day overtake him.