Pride and joy as Woodford Green heart surgery girl prepares to start school

PUBLISHED: 11:52 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:05 22 August 2017

Amelia now in her school uniform

Amelia now in her school uniform

The Sick Children's Trust

Starting school is a milestone for every youngster - but it’s particularly incredible for four-year-old Amelia Halfyard.

First cuddle with mum Suzanne at six weeks old on Boxing DayFirst cuddle with mum Suzanne at six weeks old on Boxing Day

When she was born prematurely in 2012, she weighed just 800g and was diagnosed with a hole in her heart which led to serious health conditions.

After failing to respond to medication, eight-week-old Amelia underwent lifesaving surgery as St Thomas’ Hospital to close the hole.

Now the four-year-old, who lives in Woodford Green with mum Suzanne and dad Mark, is thriving and very excited to be starting primary school in September.

Proud mum Suzanne said Amelia is raring to put on her school uniform for the first time.

Amelia in her incubatorAmelia in her incubator

She said: “Amelia has grown up to be a lovely, lively little girl, always running about climbing things or dancing around.

“She’s still quite small for her age, but she definitely makes up for that in personality!”

Suzanne was diagnosed with early onset severe pre-eclampsia when she was just 24 weeks pregnant with Amelia.

Just two and a half weeks later, she was rushed to The Royal London Hospital, where within hours, she had an emergency casarean on November 15.

For the first four months of her life, Amelia underwent specialist treatment at the hospital in Whitechapel whilst her parents anxiously stayed by her side.

During this time, the couple were supported by The Sick Children’s Trust, who offered them free accommodation at the hospital.

Suzanne said: “The first week after Amelia was born was a really frustrating time for our family.

“Because of my caesarean, I wasn’t able to drive – so every day I would have to find someone to pick me up from our home in Walthamstow, drive across London to The Royal London Hospital, and then organise when and where to be picked up.

“Visiting my own daughter in hospital had become the hardest thing in the world.

“So when I was given a set of keys to Stevenson House I was so relieved – it was absolutely great.

“It gave me and Mark the independence to be the parents we wanted to be.

“The Sick Children’s Trust kept our family together during one of our most difficult times.”

Four months after her birth and a month after her scheduled due date, Amelia was allowed to return home.

But it wasn’t plain sailing as she continued to suffer from breathing difficulties and for the next 15 months was in and out of hospital four times.

She was eventually transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge – 50 miles away from home.

Suzanne and Mark were once again offered accommodation by The Sick Children’s Trust at the charity’s Acorn House.

And in January 2014, another milestone was met as Amelia came off oxygen.

The active four-year-old has suffered from no lasting or major illnesses as a result of premature birth. Now the Halfyard’s are preparing for Amelia’s big day.

Suzanne said: “I don’t think the transition to school will be too difficult for Amelia.

“A few of her cousins are in the years above as well so there’ll be a few familiar faces in the playground at least, and when she visited her new class the other day she absolutely adored it.

“She’s already been attending pre-school – I remember on her first day there I was told by one of the teachers that parents tend to get a bit tearful the first time they drop their kids off.

“I was so used to leaving Amelia every night at the hospital, so actually leaving her for a couple of hours there knowing that she was going to enjoy herself simply made me incredibly happy.

“I know primary school will be a big change for Amelia, but Mark and I are both teachers and we’ll be there to support her every step of the way.”

For more information about The Sick Children’s Trust, visit

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