Leeds heart op toddler's Christmas delight

This cheeky toddler is looking forward to her best Christmas ever.

For it will be one that Gabrysia Filarowski would not have reached if it wasn't for the generosity of a bereaved family who donated their child's heart.

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The gift of life means Gabrysia, from Horsforth, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa.

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Last year the two-year-old had been seriously ill with a sickness bug and couldn't enjoy the festivities properly.

Her mum Angela said: "I can't wait to have a successful, healthy and enjoyable Christmas so we can say we've done that for her.

"Last year we were desperately looking forward to it because she had had the transplant, she had responded to her medication, but due to her surpressed immune system she got a really bad bug.

"It was mid March before she recovered."

Gabrysia, from Horsforth, was born with a rare heart defect and told she needed a transplant or would have months to live. When the call came in July last year, she was rushed to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle for the surgery.

The operation went well but she needed extra treatment to combat rejection, which meant being isolated for eight months.

However she picked up the Norovirus sickness bug which hit her hard and was rushed to hospital.

"She was discharged from hospital on Christmas eve, but only really because it was Christmas," her mum said.

"Last year she lost so much weight she could not even stand up and she lost her ability to walk."

Gabrysia took months to regain her strength but is now doing well, and attends pre-school.

"Now she's had her new heart longer than she had her old heart," Angela added.

"The miracle of transplantation has more than doubled her life."

The 33-year-old said a special moment had been when she took Gabrysia to see Santa, especially as she and husband Andrew are always aware they can't take their daughter's health for granted.

"We are constantly aware that although she's doing really well today, she might not be tomorrow.

"It's still all about just doing as much as we can with her.

"It was magical when she sat on Santa's knee."

Her family, including brother Thomas, 13, and sister Ania, 11, marked the anniversary of her lifesaving transplant with a ball at the Queens Hotel in July, raising 5,000 for the Children's Cardiac Transplant Fund at the Freeman Hospital.

Angela said the child whose heart saved Gabrysia was always in their thoughts.

"I can only imagine what it would be like had Gabrysia not been here.

"I hope it does bring our donor family comfort to know they have saved six or seven lives through their little girl. We say God Bless to her family every day.

"We've made it a constant feature in her life that she grows up aware of this amazing family."

To sign up for the Organ Donor Register, visit: www.uktransplant.org.uk or ring 0300 123 23 23.

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