A girl whose family feared she would not live beyond a year has celebrated her school prom.
Ellie Bird, 16, survived against all odds when she was born with a severe heart defect that saw her rushed into surgery at just one day old.
Now the brave teenager has celebrated another milestone – partying with her closest friends at her end-of-year prom at the Imperial Hotel.
Her mum Janet, 52, from Thornton, said: “I was quite emotional.
“I didn’t think she would live to see nursery, let alone her school prom.”
The Gazette has followed Ellie’s heroic journey, from tiny, fragile baby to a happy teenager celebrating a night out with friends.
From her first day at Breck Primary School in Poulton and then at Hodgson Academy to her 13th birthday, The Gazette has been there to help celebrate her extraordinary life.
Thornton teenager Ellie, who is looking forward to studying nursing at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “I know I’m very lucky.
“Not all babies with my condition survive.
“Now I’m looking forward to finishing school and getting my GCSEs out of the way.
“Everybody has been looking forward to prom, getting the dresses and all my hair and make-up appointments sorted.”
But Ellie nearly missed out on the prom night of her dreams, as she suffers from intense migraines which she believes to be a result of her condition.
She said: “At first I was looking forward to going but when I got the migraine I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I was very determined to go!”
Mum Janet said: “I was quite emotional. I didn’t think she would live to see nursery, let alone her school prom.
“Each milestone she reaches is amazing.
“I’m so proud of her.”
Ellie 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.
Despite this, Janet, who works as a shop owner, says Ellie’s health has vastly improved over the years.
She said: “She hasn’t been in hospital for a while, which is brilliant.
“She had her first surgery at 24 hours old and she’s had many surgeries since then. Too many to count.
“There’s no cure for what she has. She will always need medication for it.
“She has fought so much and she’s gone through more in 16 years than what some adults go through in a lifetime, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”