Brave toddler given only 48 hours to live defies doctor’s predictions

When Hope Pickersgill lay fighting for life, her devastated parents were told she only had 48 hours to live and advised to make their last memories with her. But Hope lived up to her name – and defied doctors’ predictions.

After an intricate operation to give her half a working heart, the two-year-old is back with her family. Mum Leanne Shirt, 36, said: “Hope had suffered a cardiac arrest and her organs were shutting down.

“The doctors advised to make as many last memories with her whilst we could in those last few hours. It was devastating.”

Leanne and partner Mike, 35, a former call centre worker, of Barnsley, were told when she was 20 weeks pregnant that their baby had Tetralogy of Fallot, which is four severe defects in the heart.

Hope also had severe pulmonary stenosis and a large hole between her heart chambers.

Hope was born in January 2021 and had keyhole surgery at just two weeks old. Two months later her heart went into multiple spasms, which doctors described as being like “mini heart attacks”.

Four weeks after that Hope suffered a massive cardiac arrest. Doctors at Leeds General gave her just 48 hours to live.

Leanne and Mike, son Kaylem, 10, and daughter Eve, eight, thought they would lose her. But after Hope hung on for 48 hours, the couple were told they could let her pass away, or doctors could attempt risky surgery.

Leanne said: “It was a slim chance that we wanted to take. To see Hope now is amazing. She has been through so much but is getting stronger every day.”

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