A brave four-year-old Bridlington girl born with a serious heart condition is set to undergo life-changing surgery this month.
Laiela Nalton, of Waterdale Close, Bridlington, will have open heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) on Wednesday 19 February to replace her temporary pulmonary artery with a human transplant.
For her mum Kelly, 33, the operation cannot come too soon as it is hoped to improve Laiela’s quality of life, enabling her to walk using her frame again.
Kelly, who has four other children, said: “It is a very, very serious operation. It will mean everything to us.
“After, it will be brilliant. We have just got to get past that hurdle and I’m absolutely dreading it.
“All she wants to do is ride a horse and to go in an aeroplane. After six months we can take her in a plane.
“I have had to cut her nursery hours down because she is tired all the time. After the operation she isn’t going to be sleeping all the time.
“She’s so good. She doesn’t talk or walk but she is very bossy! She sleeps a lot and is always pale.
“I have my ups and downs. I feel it more when I’m on my own and I look at her and I think it is so horrible what she has to go through. We are just trying to carry on as normal. We have just got to carry on.”
Laiela suffers from a rare heart condition called Truncous Arteriosus and also has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. It is hoped the new piece of heart will last 10 years, whereas her current heart has a life-span of four years.
Laiela’s friends at her nursery, Cliffe House, held a special fundraising day for the cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary where she will be treated.
Staff and youngsters at the Third Avenue nursery wore their best red outfits for British Heart Foundation led campaign “Ramp Up The Red Day” on Friday 7 February and raised £140.
The money was presented to LGI on Tuesday 11 February.
Gillian Wildridge, deputy nursery manager, said: “It just means everything to us because Laiela is so special to us. We are just so grateful to the parents who supported us.
“Laiela is so gorgeous, she has been with us since she was about 20 months old. She gets on so well with everybody, she is very popular.”
Students at Headlands School and Community Science College, where Laiela’s sister Natasha and brother Cameron go to school, also donned red and raised £264.74 for the cardiac unit, after hearing about her upcoming surgery.
Karis Irvine, 17, of Headlands’ Charity Group, said: “She is one brave little girl and we wanted to raise as much money as possible for her and other children to give them the best opportunity in life.”
The money raised will go to the cardiac unit at LGI which was threatened with closure in 2011 due to Government spending cuts.
Kelly was involved in campaigning to save the Unit, which saved Laiela’s life after she was born with the heart defect.
Laeila’s family, including sister Natasha, 14 and three brothers: Cameron, 12, Brandon, 10 and Connor, aged four, will support her through her surgery next week.