A ‘warrior princess’ whose sunny smile brought joy to the lives of family, friends and doctors alike has died.
Lana Driver, from Fleetwood, spent her fifth birthday singing and dancing to her favourite songs before passing away peacefully in her dad’s arms at Blackpool Victoria Hospital two days later, on Friday, October 25.
The Red Marsh School pupil was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which occurs when the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen fails to properly develop in the womb, and suffered from pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs.
Lana’s mum Susie Driver, 36, who lives off Grange Road, said: “She never let her condition define her. She was always laughing, always smiling. She never let anything get her down.
“She was such a bright and bubbly character. Her nickname was Tinkerbell.
“She was an inspiration to other children like her. She did things that even doctors didn’t think she’d do, like walking, talking and eating. She fought so hard.”
Susie said that she and Lana’s dad, Jonathan Howard, and nana, Dot Stewart, knew from an early stage that their little girl would never reach adulthood.
They were told they could expect to spend five to seven years with their Tinkerbell.
“She was ventilated at Manchester Children’s Hospital three years ago, and the doctors said there was nothing more they could do for her,” Susie said. “It was on her third birthday that they told me she wouldn’t survive the night, and she said no.”
Lana went into palliative care at Brian House Children’s Hospice in Low Moor Road, Bispham, 15 weeks ago.
In her final months, she visited the Sea Life Centre and zoo, took a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, threw a huge unicorn-themed party, and met her Disney heroes princesses Anna and Elsa.
She met players from Fleetwood Town FC, including striker Bobby Grant, and was given a special visit to the pitch at the club’s Highbury stadium.
Susie, a former nursery nurse who gave up her job to look after Lana full-time, said: “Her condition never stopped her doing anything. Even two days before she died, she had her fifth birthday party and she didn’t want it to end.
“She went peacefully. She wasn’t in any pain. She didn’t suffer. Even in her final moments she was still trying to smile. She never gave up.
“She was a warrior princess.”
Lana’s funeral will take place at St Nicholas’s Church, in Highbury Avenue, Fleetwood, at 1pm tomorrow.
The ‘bright and bubbly’ youngster will again be taken by horse-drawn carriage, albeit this time to her final resting place. Mourners have been asked to wear Lana’s favourite colours of pink and lemon yellow.
After, there will be a wake at the Old Bank Restaurant Bar in Lord Street.
Susie said: “Lana wasn’t one for black and dark colors. She loved rainbows, Minnie Mouse and unicorns. Her two favourite colours were pink and lemon, so that’s the colours I wanted for the funeral.
“She’s got a horse-drawn carriage fit for a princess.
“Brian House were fantastic and I couldn’t fault them, and every single one of her nurses is attending her funeral. She’s touched so many hearts. She was a very popular little girl. There’ll never be another like her.”