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Heart-op tot Joy is full of life for special celebration

HEART-OP tot Joy Lawlor Doyle is bursting with energy -- and she is burning it all off with pursuits such as swimming and soccer.

The brave two-year-old underwent life-saving surgery on her enlarged heart last December -- and after one major setback, she is on course for a full recovery.

"She's doing great, absolutely fantastic. We couldn't have hoped for her to do any better," her mum Gemma told the Herald.

Little Joy contracted an infection in her surgery wounds over Christmas, but she quickly recovered after a ten day stint in hospital.

Now her mum says: "The doctors thought her heart would take years to recover, since it was out of shape and oversized, but they can actually see it's getting better even from the ultrasound they did.

"She's coming into herself. She's definitely blossomed. We brought her swimming two weeks ago and she was loving it. The last time she went swimming was June of last year, but seven weeks post surgery she was jumping in the pool.

"She had her first soccer lesson on Saturday, and she was right in the middle of them running up the gym when she was told to, and she scored a goal."

The family will celebrate Tet, the Vietnamese New Year this weekend, and Joy will attend the celebrations dressed in the traditional ao doi dress.

But even though Joy's tale has a happy ending, the Save Joy Campaign continues and it has raised €4,000 for the Extra Corporeal Life Support (ECLS) in Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin.

Gemma stressed: "It's disappointing that the government, the HSE, and the hospital haven't opened St Josephs in Crumlin and the services are blocked up for everyone."

Gemma and Joy will present 15,000 signatures to Mary Harney outside the Dail next week, asking the Minister to tackle the cardiac surgery waiting list.