A SCHOOLGIRL from Hereford has had her life-changing open-heart surgery after she was offered a space at Birmingham Children’s Hospital a year earlier than expected.

Nine-year-old Ava Bailey’s mum and dad, Becky and Richard, were told they should expect to wait 18 months for the operation to repair a

27-millimetre hole in her heart.

But then the NHS got in touch two weeks ago to offer them a slot last Friday (July 9).

Mrs Bailey, of Breinton Road, said the operation was delayed until Monday (July 12), but did go successfully.

The earlier operation meant their fundraising campaign to raise £25,000 to go privately at the same hospital was no longer needed, and refunds were being processed.

Mrs Bailey, 38, said the four-hour operation was needed so Ava could lead a fuller life.

She said from operation was successful, and Ava was now out of intensive care.

“We stayed up here all weekend, in a hotel until we were able to book into Ronald McDonald house, and she finally had her surgery Monday at 10am,” she said.

“The surgery took four hours to complete, and from the cardiologist’s perspective it was successful.

“During her recovery in intensive care, Ava was chatty and desperately wanted to eat and drink. She was eventually allowed water but gulped it a bit too fast and vomited.”

She said: “All the staff here have been incredibly caring towards all of us, and I can’t praise them highly enough.”

Ava’s condition meant she had missed time at school due to exhaustion, but it was a long battle for a diagnosis, which came more than two years after Mrs Bailey thought there could be a problem.