At six years of age little Gabrysia Filarowski is already showing great promise as a dancer.
And as her parents watch her perform they know they owe everything to the brave family who gave her the gift of life.
The little girl, who celebrated her sixth birthday on Friday, would have died without a heart transplant when she was 16 months old.
As they helped mark the birthday they thought they would never see, Gabrysia’s parents stressed their eternal gratitude to the donor family, and hospital staff who made her survival possible.
Her mum Angela, from Horsforth, said: “We thank God in our prayers with Gabrysia every night for our donor family and remember their selfless act always. It is of course our plea to continue to encourage all to sign up to the donor register and consider giving the most amazing gift of all – the gift of life. We are so proud of the miracle that is our daughter but know we owe a debt of gratitude to all who made it possible.”
Gabrysia was born with a rare condition, which meant she only had half a heart. She underwent her first open heart surgery at only seven days old, followed by more procedures when she was three months old. Her life was hanging by a thread when she underwent a heart transplant at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. She is now on antibody replacement therapy in the form of immunoglobulin infusions which have to be administered weekly at home.
“Since starting these infusions back in May 2013 Gabrysia has remained extremely healthy and continues to go from strength to strength,” Angela said.
“She has now been having ballet and tap dancing lessons for over a year and has recently started to take part in festivals where she competes against children of a similar age.” Angela said her daughter had recently won fourth place medal in a festival.
“Other girls taking part in the festival have been dancing since they were 12 to 18 months old and our daughter at that point was in such major heart failure that she couldn’t do anything on her own, so to see her leaping and bounding across a stage performing a solo dance is nothing short of a miracle – we feel so proud,” she said.
Now her family are making the most of a birthday they thought they would never see.
Angela said: “We are celebrating parties with Gabrysia’s family and friends and making a special trip to see Disney on Ice at Leeds arena.
“We live for the moment and fulfil our dreams wherever possible as we know only too well the harsh reality of what we could face at any moment with Gabrysia.”