SISSY FIGHTS BACK

By RENEE REDMOND

Toddler Phelicity Sneesby (Sissy) is coming home after surviving almost eight hours of open-heart surgery in the United States.

Ecstatic father, Ben Sneesby, said the family would return to Lismore in September after the life-saving surgery.

It is a great outcome for the family who flew out of Australia in April with only $70 left in savings. However, friends and strangers raised $19,000 for them.

The family also has an extra reason to celebrate. Mum Veronica is due to give birth to her third child in early July.

Yesterday, Ben said his two-year-old daughter, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, needed the surgery at Columbus Children's Hospital in Ohio to strengthen her heart.

"Sissy will be recovering at the hospital for the next two weeks," the 29-year-old said.

"The surgery has only ever been performed twice before and should allow Sissy to live a normal life without any extra operations until she is at least 30 years old."

Sissy went in for the operation last Tuesday and was in intensive care for seven days, five of which were critical.

"It was a bit touch and go for a while but she has finally been transported to the cardiac wing, where she'll spend the rest of her time until she is discharged in about two weeks," he said.

Ben said the new surgery was designed to be a lot more gentle in the recovery period and give increased longevity.

"The bills are starting to roll in, they always seem to find the best times to send them. Phelicity's first procedure, the heart cath, that was performed six weeks ago, will cost in excess of $US13,000.

"We thank everybody for the help they have contributed so far, it makes things a lot easier. We are looking forward to coming home and showing off our little battler," he said. She is a very strong little girl with a huge desire to live."

"She is being very brave, she never complains and takes it all in her stride. It breaks our hearts to see her just accepting everything around her, as if it is almost normal," Ben said.



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