SINCE undergoing her third heart operation just over a year ago, Rosyth heart warrior Paige Blake managed to complete more than half of a charity walk to say thank you to the hospital where she underwent the vital surgery.

The feat was just the latest for the eight-year-old Park Road Primary pupil, who has continued to amaze proud mum Claire McKenzie and dad John Blake.

When Paige was just 20-weeks-old in the womb, she was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital defect where the left ventricle of the heart is under-developed severely.

The condition meant she had to have her first open-heart surgery to insert a shunt at just four-days-old and had another major procedure at four months.

She spent the first six months of her life at Yorkhill and her family came close to losing her several times – and were once even told she only had 48 hours to live.

In July last year, she underwent a 10-and-a-half-hour operation and, after suffering setbacks which included sepsis and fluid on the chest, was able to return home six weeks later.

Mum Claire, of Newton Crescent, said although the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it concerns and difficulties, it has not stopped the progress of their plucky daughter.

"It has been surreal," said the mum-of-three. "She has done so well. She managed to conquer potty training doing lockdown. One day, she decided she didn't want to wear nappies and wanted to be a big girl.

"She did a lot more walking just to try and train her legs. She is still a bit unsteady but the more she is doing, the more strength she is getting in her legs. She is really chuffed with herself and has even managed to get two awards at school for doing so well.

"She has just got on with things. Myself and her dad, we are terrified as it (coronavirus) is so close and you hear about people around about having it and it is practically on your doorstep but she just gets on with it. She doesn't want to be away from school and wants to be in school with her friends and her teachers."

The couple and Paige's siblings, Chloe and Michael, had a little party in July to mark the one year anniversary since the operation and also had a tea party at home in October to celebrate her eighth birthday.

They then joined Claire's sister, Christine, and other family members and friends for the charity walk across the Forth Bridge earlier this month.

"We were both so proud of her," added Claire. "She wanted to get dressed up and got dressed up as a cheerleader from one of her favourite films and she was so excited. She got her Yorkhill flag and did so well. Eventually, she said she was tired and got in her chair for a bit, then we had something to eat and she walked a bit more.

"By the end of the day, she was absolutely shattered. There have been a lot of proud moments. Coming out of nappies and how well she is doing at school and the sponsored walk was just the best. It was very emotional.

"It was a nice way to say thank you, to say thank you for all the hospital's work."