Norwich family’s joy at being together for Christmas after baby born with five heart defects

Emmie-Rae Barker, 16-months-old, home for her first Christmas after spending last year in hospital,

Emmie-Rae Barker, 16-months-old, home for her first Christmas after spending last year in hospital, with her delighted family, from left, her grandad Alan Monsey, her brother Riley Leveridge, 7, and her mum and dad, Charlotte Monsey and Kane Barker. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A family received the perfect gift this Christmas after their 16-month-old daughter was able to spend it at home for the first time since undergoing life-saving surgery.

Emmie-Rae Barker, 16-months-old, home for her first Christmas after spending last year in hospital.

Emmie-Rae Barker, 16-months-old, home for her first Christmas after spending last year in hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Emmie-Rae Barker was born with five rare heart defects and had spent most of her young life in hospital, away from mum and dad Charlotte Monsey and Kane Barker, of Fowell Close in Earlham.

But following a successful heart operation back in February, she has been able to return home and yesterday spent her first Christmas surrounded by her loving relatives.

Miss Monsey, 28, who also has a seven-year-old son called Riley, said: 'It is lovely, really lovely to have her home. When you look back at pictures from last year, we never thought we would have her here.

'Last Christmas was awful. My mum was having to look after Riley all the time, and I came back Christmas Eve [From hospital], while her dad stayed by her side. We then travelled back on Christmas Day.'

Emmie-Ray underwent the first of two major operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital last December and was on life support.

After being brought home in January, her condition worsened and she was taken back to hospital as an emergency.

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Doctors told the family that she required a 12-hour operation to repair her heart and was given just a 25pc chance of survival.

Miss Monsey added: 'They had 40 people working on her and told us that they had not seen a case like Emmie's in the past 12 to 18 years.

'But the staff and the hospital there are unreal. There were times where we thought we were going to lose her and they brought her back.'

During Emmie-Ray's time in hospital, her family raised thousands of pounds to support them.

Granddad Alan Monsey, 54, and his son Billy, helped raise £15,000 that was split between the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Great Ormond Street.

And they are now attempting to raise a further £6,600 by collecting enough 10ps to form a mile-long stretch of coins.

Along with a further £7,000 from their Just Giving page, the money will be donated to two other hospitals.

Mr Monsey said: 'It has been amazing having her here, she is a miracle. I will continue to fundraise now. My life is completely channelled down that route.'

Emmie-Rae's Dad Kane, 23, said: 'I stayed with her last Christmas and it was hard, but still nice to be by her side.

'It's lovely having her here now. It has made my year.'

Are you fundraising to support a local hospital? Call Luke Powell 01603 772684.