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Second round of operations for young Ellie

PUBLISHED: 11:41 23 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:53 14 July 2010

She has only just turned one, but little Eloise Sharpe is due to have her second heart operation this week.

The toddler survived against the odds after she underwent open heart surgery when she was 12-weeks-old, after being born with a rare congenital heart defect.

She has only just turned one, but little Eloise Sharpe is due to have her second heart operation this week.

The toddler survived against the odds after she underwent open heart surgery when she was 12-weeks-old, after being born with a rare congenital heart defect.

Now her parents, Paul Sharpe and Sharon Stebbings, face another agonising wait while their daughter undergoes a second round of surgery at Birmingham Children's Hospital on Wednesday.

Ellie, as her family call her, has DiGeorge syndrome, of which congenital heart defects, low immunity, cleft palates and learning difficulties can all be symptoms.

She has a complicated pulmonary artesia (no pulmonary artery) mapca (major aorta pulmonary collateral arteries) and a large hole in the heart.

This means that instead of main arteries to the lungs, she has tiny, hair-sized collateral arteries.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital initially told her parents the condition was inoperable, but surgeons at Birmingham Children's Hospital said they thought they could help.

They performed the surgery, in which a shunt was inserted to help the blood supply to the lungs.

Miss Stebbings, 35, said the wait would be an upsetting and difficult time for the family. She said: “They are going to try to put another shunt in on her left side to increase the blood supply to her left lung.

“They said it would be 50/50 but it would give her a better chance.

“We're apprehensive and sacred, but we know we have got to do it to give her that chance.”

The family, who live in Knevet Close, Attleborough, have been especially thankful for the help and support they have received from the East Anglian Children's Hospice (EACH) at Quidenham.

At one point they did not even know if Ellie would reach her first birthday, so the celebration on January 30 was an especially joyful day for the family.

To mark the occasion family, including Ellie's older brother Kallum, six, and friends helped to raise £190 for both EACH and Heartline, which provides support and help for children with congenital heart conditions and their families.

Miss Stebbings, who has had to take a career break from her work as an administrator for the Department of Work and Pensions in Norwich to look after Ellie, said: “It went brilliantly and we had a wonderful day. Now we've just got to get through this week.

“Ellie has also had an MRI scan and we're hoping to find out more about the results of that when we see the neurologist in Birmingham.”

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