She was kept alive by an artificial heart for over a month.
But now a transplant has given little Chloe Brown another chance at life.
The two-year-old’s parents say they are overjoyed they now have a ‘normal little girl’ after she spent months desperately ill when a mystery virus attacked her heart.
Her dad Gavin, a former Leeds Rhinos player, said: “The rollercoaster we were on was unbelievable.
“Back home now, it seems miles away. All we wanted was a normal little girl – it’s a massive relief.”
Chloe became ill aged six months. She was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart cannot pump properly.
She was cared for at the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary but her parents were told she would eventually need a transplant.
That became urgent when she deteriorated and had to be put onto a Berlin Heart, a machine which keeps their heart going while waiting for a donor organ.
However she was beset with complications which caused a stroke.
“At that point she really needed a heart and thankfully one came up on July 27 last year,” Lisa, 32, said.
The youngster underwent the transplant at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and has recovered well.
Though she has a tracheostomy tube to help her breathe, she is doing well.
“She is so happy, even when you go to see the doctors,” her mum said.
“When family and friends see photos, they say they cannot believe what she’s been through.”
The couple had boundless support from friends and family, who looked after their six-year-old daughter Kaitlin while they were in Newcastle for four months.
Mr Brown also paid tribute to his former junior rugby club Milford Marlins who raised £2,000 to help them with the cost of the stay.
They say Chloe proves how vital organ donation is. “It’s time to get people to think that they could save a life,” said Lisa.