SCHOOLGIRL Lauren Johnson is planning to hit the road to help the hospital where she had open heart surgery just weeks ago.
Only a month after undergoing a five-hour operation to repair a large hole in her heart, Lauren, 11, is back at school and itching to get back to her beloved gymnastics.
The West Boldon Primary School pupil has already signed up to take part in this year’s Junior Great North Run, to raise cash for the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, where she had the major surgery.
Her proud parents Pam and Steven Johnson, of Shepherds Way, West Boldon, admit there’s “no stopping” their super-fit only daughter.
Pam, 43, said: “It’s amazing how good Lauren looks, just a month after her operation.
“She’s really frustrated at being ‘banned’ from gymnastics, because surgeons had to break bones in her chest during surgery.
“But she was determined to raise cash for the children’s heart unit at the Freeman, because of all they have done for her.
“She’s taking part in the Junior Great North Run in September to raise cash for the unit and already has the charity vest from the unit.”
It was last summer that Lauren first complained of a pain in her chest and a family GP detected a heart murmur.
Lauren was later diagnosed with a large hole in the heart, which could have sparked serious heart disease and high blood pressure in later life.
Her parents say doctors were “amazed” at how smoothly the operation went and how quickly Lauren bounced back to fitness.
“Lauren attends gymnastics sessions several times a week and the doctors said her recovery was boosted because she is so fit and in great shape,” Pam added.
With doubts hanging over the long-term future of the Freeman heart unit, the Johnson family is determined to boost the facility all the way.
Pam said: “Lauren’s experience just shows how important the heart unit at the Freeman is.
“We cannot thank the fantastic surgeons enough and Lauren simply wants to raise as much money as she can for them, as a way of saying ‘thank you.’”
Lauren is now living a normal life and doesn’t have to return to the Freeman Hospital for a check-up for another three months.