A girl born with a heart defect who was not expected to survive more than a few weeks has defied odds by reaching adulthood.
Ellie Bird, of Thornton, was born with a serious condition which meant the two main blood vessels in the heart were switched.
She underwent a 10-hour open heart operation when she was just nine days old, with doctors fearing she would not survive more than a few weeks.
But she battled against all odds and has now turned 18 and is planning the rest of her future.
The former Hodgson Academy pupil was delighted to enter the next stage in her life and celebrated in style with her best friend Adele Cummings, who turned 18 a day later and enjoyed a family meal and hotel stay in Lytham.
Her mum, Janet Costello, said: “Every year with Ellie has been a milestone, but approaching her 18th birthday was very emotional for me.
“When you have a child born with serious medical issues you are scared of the future, but each year she gets stronger.
“We have a very close relationship. She’s not only my daughter, she’s my best friend.
“We have been through so much together and we look forward to celebrating all of her life’s journeys and achievements together.
“Ellie has missed a lot of her education due to her medical condition, however she still managed to achieve excellent exam results in school, and she is due to complete a two-year college course in health and social care, to become a neonatal nurse.
“She passed her driving test the week before her birthday, which again was a huge achievement, given her anxiety and low confidence, so with that it mind we decided to add to her celebrations with a new car.”
Ellie said: “Growing up with a complex heart condition has been challenging to say the least, though I know I am one of the lucky ones, I don’t take life for granted, I appreciate every day.
“I have been looking forward to becoming 18. It’s another milestone not just for me but for my mum.
“My plans for the future include completing my college course, a family holiday and working towards university, but not before having some well earned fun in the sun with a season working abroad.”