TEN years ago Gabrysia Filaro-wski was close to death as she waited for a heart transplant.

She was just a baby when her life hung in the balance and she was given months to live.

She was saved by the “miracle” of transplantation and the bravery of the donor family whose own child had died.

A decade on, Gabrysia is preparing to start secondary school and her parents are eternally grateful to the people who gave her the gift of life.

Gabrysia, from Horsforth, 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 just three months old.

Her life hung in the balance as she waited for a transplant, and at the age of just 16 months in July 2009 she received her new heart.

She faced organ rejection following the transplant when the levels of antibodies in her blood became dangerously high. She was readmitted to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and became the youngest person in the country to receive the new drug bortezomib as doctors fought to stop her heart from being rejected.

The pioneering treatment worked and each anniversary of the transplant is a milestone for her parents Angela and Andrew, who had feared they would never see their daughter grow up.

Angela said: “Gabrysia is doing so well. Currently we go for three-monthly check-ups to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where she undergoes a round of different tests and then has an interim six-weekly blood test to keep the levels of her medicine carefully balanced. She handles it all very well although still dislikes having blood tests.

“We are feeling so blessed to be celebrating ten years since Gabrysia received her gift of life, she is indeed our little miracle.

“We remember only too well how her life hung in the balance for months, and seem so far from this now. Of course the future is unknown but as always we try and live as positively as we can, making the most of each day and making precious memories when we can.

“We held a charity ball for our family and friends to celebrate the special anniversary.

“What was particularly lovely at this event was how Gabrysia is now old enough to have a table for her and her friends.

“They held their own special fundraiser - if they raised £200 on the night, they would dance for the audience.

“They had put together a special dance which they performed to the cheering audience who donated enough to see the girls’ faces with huge smiles - not a dry eye in the room. Altogether we raised over £3,000 for the children’s heart surgery fund in Newcastle.”

Gabrysia’s family have always stressed their gratitude to the staff at the Freeman Hospital

They have raised thousands of pounds for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund, which raises money for equipment, facilities, aftercare and research for the Children’s Heart Unit and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Freeman Hospital.

And they have spoken movingly of the donor family who gave Gabrysia the gift of life in the midst of their own grief.

As her daughter reached the three-month milestone following her life-saving transplant, Angela said: “As ever, we are in constant gratitude to our amazingly brave donor family, who have already enabled us to have three months with Gabrysia we never contemplated having.

“We constantly remember them in our thoughts and hope their brave act has helped them in some way in their grieving process.”

Angela has also repeatedly urged others to join the organ donor register to give other desperately ill people the chance to live.