Celebration as Eloise, four, starts school in Attleborough

Nearly four years ago, little Eloise Sharpe's parents were told that their baby daughter might not survive the night after doctors discovered she had a rare heart condition.

But now, after surviving open heart surgery, the youngster has shown her strength and is about to start school.

The four-year-old, of Bluebell Close, Attleborough, will join Attleborough Infant School on Wednesday, September 12.

Eloise's mum, Sharon, 39, said: 'For her to be starting school is a huge milestone and one that I thought we wouldn't see.

'We found out about her condition when she was six weeks old. The doctor said he wasn't happy with her colour because she was often blue around the lips.'

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Eloise was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

'We were told that she could pass away in her sleep. When she came off the ventilator at GOSH we didn't know if she had minutes or hours. We had her transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital so she could be closer to home.

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'Lots of people thought that there was nothing that they could do for my daughter. You can't comprehend hearing it, it's very scary,' Mrs Sharpe said.

The mother-of-two and her husband, Paul, 48, who works for Anglian Water, sought a second opinion from doctors at Birmingham Children's Hospital where doctors diagnosed Eloise with absent pulmonary artery and cerebral palsy on her left side. She has a large hole in her heart and suffers from DiGeorge Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder.

She had open heart surgery at the hospital when she was just 12 weeks old.

'Her future was quite bleak in her first year because they didn't think the vessels would grow but they found a way to balloon them. She's very strong. I know that her future is still quite uncertain but I know we are not alone and that there are other families out there in the same situation.'

Eloise loves playing with her brother, Kallum, nine, watching Peppa Pig, singing and dressing up as a princess. She dotes on her half brother and sister, James, 23, and Georgina, 21.

Mrs Sharpe said: 'I want to give other people hope. Every birthday is always so special.

'She is fed through a tube into her stomach overnight. We would not of got through this without the support of family and friends and the charities that have helped us along the way such as Quidenham Hospice and Scope.

'Also Hall Farm nursery who have looked after her for the past two years have done a fantastic job and for that we are very eternally grateful.'

She is now preparing to start school where she will receive one-to-one care.

Mrs Sharpe said: 'I think Eloise is looking forward to starting school. I feel like I lost my first year with her.

'Her speech is coming along. I don't want to prevent her from making friends and building on the relationships she already has.

'She's going to a mainstream school and the help there is fantastic.'

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