AN ECSTATIC family are celebrating after their brave daughter was given the chance to lead a normal life following major heart surgery.
Little Molly Brennan, aged two-and-a-half, underwent a gruelling nine-hour operation to repair a hole in her heart at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, three weeks ago.
It was the fifth time she had gone under the surgeon's knife in her short life.
She was born in October 2002 at Burnley General Hospital with a mystery condition that has stunted her growth.
Despite her age, she is still only 17lbs after she was born weighing 3lbs - little more than a small bag of sugar.
Molly, who returned home a week ago, was born with a heart defect which stopped blood from reaching her right lung. Her condition was so serious doctors were not convinced she would pull through.
But she has defied the odds and her parents Ian and Helen, of Montgomery Close, Baxenden, are now looking forward to sending her to nursery school.
Molly, who was born by caesarean section, has had two major operations to fit tubes to carry blood between the two vital organs and corrective surgery to repair the hole in her heart.
She also has a small tube in her stomach to allow her body to produce fat and help her grow.
Househusband Ian, 41, said: "She hasn't been able to have the heart surgery until now because she was so small. She is slowly putting on weight now and hopefully she can lead a normal life."
He said Molly, who has a sister Amy, six, spent five days on a ventilator following the surgery to correct faulty valves in her heart.
He said: "We have never cried so much, it was very upsetting. We just want to thank all our friends and family and everyone at Alder Hey who have been marvellous.
"We feel like we have been on a long journey. Her treatment has been intensive but hopefully it will calm down now.
"Our lives have been on hold since she was born. We are so relieved because we can get on with things now. The doctors said she will never be big but as long as she is well, that's the most important thing."
Mum Helen, 27, a part-time sales assistant, said: "We feel really relieved she is home and we can start to build a normal life for Molly and ourselves. I am really looking forward to getting her ready for nursery school. She will need to have the tube changed when she is a teenager as she will outgrow it."