IT was the homecoming the Davis family feared they might never see.
But after months in intensive care, baby Layla has finally made it home to Sunderland.
Two major heart operations left the youngster fighting for life as doctors battled to fix a rare defect.
For months, Layla’s distraught parents were unable to cuddle or even hold their newborn daughter.
But today it’s a very different story.
“We can’t believe she’s back and on Friday we’ll be celebrating her first birthday,” said mum Amanda, 29.
Layla, of Hall Farm, was born on June 7 with a catalogue of heart defects.
They were only picked up after a doctor at Sunderland Royal Hospital feared there was something seriously wrong with the newborn.
Scans later revealed she was suffering from mitral stenosis, mitral valve regurgitation, pulmonary hypertension and aortic stenosis.
It meant the valve in the left side of her heart was not working properly, pumping blood back into her tiny lungs.
Last July, she underwent her first heart operation in a bid to try and repair the valve, but the repair held for just two weeks and by Christmas, Layla was losing weight again and was readmitted to hospital.
In January, she had further heart surgery, the first time a procedure of its kind had been carried out at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in 20 years.
Amanda and husband Stephen, 29, a Royal Mail worker, put their lives on hold while Layla battled back to health.
Now, in time for her birthday, the youngster is back home with sister Mia, five, and big brother Makenzie, nine. “Her heart is functioning better now than it ever has,” added Amanda.
“She is still being fed liquids through a tube but and will be for the foreseeable future.
“There were times just a few months back when we said to ourselves ‘is she going to make it through,’ but she’s never given up and she’s never stopped smiling.”
Amanda and Stephen know there is a long road ahead for their daughter, who still only weight 13lb.
“She will need more operations as she grows,” added Amanda.
“The valve on her heart is holding and all the doctors are amazed by how well she’s doing.”
On Sunday, Layla will finally be christened at St Chad’s Church in Durham Road, Sunderland.