A COURAGEOUS toddler who underwent life-saving surgery has inspired a fundraising drive by her devoted parents.
Lilly Stewart was born with a rare liver disease which affects one in 10,000 babies a year and endured a major operation at just seven-weeks-old.
Her parents Kelly and Richard Stewart, of Belvidere, Shrewsbury, will compete in the Great North Run to raise money for hospitals who played a major role in saving her life.
Kelly, 34, told Shrewsbury Living: “Lilly is making really good progress.
“She is a very confident, lively and happy child who brings such joy and love to our lives.
“Now we want to give something back to those who helped Lilly.”
Lilly, now three, was born without bile ducts outside her liver - a condition called Biliary Atresia.
Without bile ducts the liver becomes blocked with poisons which can be deadly if not treated.
Housewife Kelly says it was mother’s intuition that set alarm bells ringing.
She said: “When Lilly was born we had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
“We knew something wasn’t right but we couldn’t put our finger on it.”
Lilly became jaundiced and was taken to her GP for blood tests. A week later she underwent major surgery at King’s College, London.
“We were told we had caught it early,” said Kelly.
“Three months later her liver would have been so badly damaged that she would have died of liver failure.
“It was quite surreal. I didn’t know what was happening.
“I had to focus on the facts and try to be strong not knowing what the outcome was going to be.
“It was a very strange experience.”
But despite her progress, Lilly is still prone to infections and must take a constant stream of antibiotics.
There is also a chance Lilly, a member of Holy Trinity Playgroup, Belle Vue, may need a liver transplant in the future.
Kelly and Richard, 41, who works for Severn Trent Water, who also have daughters Rhianne, 12, Molly, seven, and one-year-old Ruby, will pound the streets of Newcastle on September 18 in the 13-mile marathon.
Proceeds will go to King's College in London, the liver unit at Birmingham Children's Hospital and The Rainbow Ward at The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
“The first year of Lilly’s life was such a haze,” added Kelly.
“After that we just started to appreciate life and our children so much more.”
Visit www.justgiving.com/kelly-Stewart0 to sponsor Kelly and Richard.