LITTLE Ruby Wright’s heart is in desperate need of repair.
The 17-month-old’s short life has been blighted by illness after she was born with a hole in the heart.
Despite suffering potentially fatal bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis, the toddler, of Springwell, Sunderland, has never given up fighting.
Now hopes are high that she is just weeks away from an operation that will change her life forever.
Ruby and her family, mum Laura Robinson, dad Daniel Wright, and big sister Millie, five, have endured a nightmare year, as Ruby battled to put on weight due to her condition.
Daniel, 30, said: “We know another winter for her could be fatal and that we need to get the operation done.”
The youngster has a ventricular septal defect, meaning she has a hole in the muscular partition between the two pumping chambers of her heart.
At just four weeks old, Ruby had open heart surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital to fit a pulmonary artery (PA) band to her heart.
Her health problems did not end there. She has also had to battle pneumonia and bronchitis as her situation worsened.
She also had to have an ileosteomy to remove part of her intestine.
Despite the operations Ruby, who attends Little Angels Nursery in Grindon, weighs just 17lb. A healthy girl of the same age would be expected to be about 30lb.
Laura, 28, said: “It was picked up on my 20-week scan that something was wrong.
“We found out at 26 weeks she had a hole in her heart.”
Daniel, who works for Interlink Scaffolding Ltd (ISL) and had his own health scare when he suffered a stroke aged 24, said: “While Laura was pregnant, it was pretty terrifying.”
Laura added: “Ruby weighs 17lb now but it’s taken her from June until now to put one pound on.
“There’s still a risk that she can pick up infections.
“She is going into hospital on October 19 for her check-up and we hope they can operate after that.”
As a show of gratitude to the Freeman, the family have been raising money for the hospital’s Heart Unit, whose work has been under threat in the face of the Coalition Government’s cutbacks.
Five out of the 11 heart units in the UK could close, with a review due to report to the health secretary Andrew Lansley in the coming months.
A decision on its future is expected at the end of this year.
Daniel, his brother-in-law Billy Poole and friends Jason Carney and Scott Hutchinson completed a 140-mile Coast to Coast bike ride, which it is hoped will have raised more than £1,500, with pal Richard Bell following them in a support vehicle.
Daniel, who has a son, also called Daniel, 12, from a previous relationship, said: “We decided that we wanted to give something back to the Freeman for everything they do.
“We are thankful to them that Ruby is still here.
“The kids when they are in there get as much support as possible.”
Daniel added that he would like to thank family and friends, ISL, Mill View Club and Total Sport for their help with fund-raising.
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