A girl who survived a liver transplant when only nine months old is preparing to start school for the first time this month.
Ava Hainey is looking forward to attending Glencoats Primary School in Paisley after undergoing the lifesaving transplant as a baby.
She was diagnosed with a rare liver disease aged just seven weeks and was rushed from her Paisley home to the liver unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
Despite major surgery she suffered liver failure at eight months and was taken back to the hospital for a transplant.
Her mother Ashley Ewing, 30, said: “Ava was just so young, she was barely a year old – we didn’t know how such a little person would be able to cope with such a major procedure.
“It was a really trying time for our family. We waited anxiously for a donor, and every time it seemed one had been found for Ava, our hopes were dashed.
“We were so scared that she wouldn’t get a liver in time that my husband James had decided that he would be a donor for Ava.
“The night the procedure was due to go ahead, we got the call. There was a liver for Ava. It seemed like our prayers had finally been answered.”
Ava, now five, was kept in hospital for five weeks to recover and has since gone from strength to strength, attending nursery for three years.
Ms Ewing said: “We’ve just got back from a caravan holiday and Ava had an absolute ball, but she’s already so excited to start school – she’s got a brand new pair of shoes picked out and her uniform ready. She’s still quite small for her age but I’m sure she’ll grow into it.
“When we were desperately waiting for a donor liver, we didn’t even think we’d reach this day, so it feels very emotional to see her starting school for the first time.
“We are so proud of how far Ava’s come, she’s shown everyone just how strong she is and that she can take on anything.”
During her time in hospital, Ava’s family were supported with free accommodation run by The Sick Children’s Trust at Eckersley House.
The charity runs ten such facilities across the country, supporting around 4,000 families with seriously ill children in hospital each year.
Ms Ewing added: “We couldn’t have done it without The Sick Children’s Trust, they kept us together when we most needed it.