Meet Lily: New Zealand's youngest heart transplant patient

STUFF NZ | Nikki MacDonald
Ross Giblin
Lily Leadbetter at 22 months, before leaving for a lifesaving heart transplant in Melbourne
Since receiving a new heart in Melbourne in January, 2-year-old Lily Leadbetter has become a completely different child.

Her denim blue dress seems an unremarkable thing, its dungaree-style top and frothy skirt typical toddler cute. But for little Lily, it's the badge of a survivor.

Blue has always been the 2-year-old's favourite colour, but before she became New Zealand's youngest heart transplant patient, it was banned from her wardrobe. Her weak, half-broken heart pumped so little oxygen into her blood that she looked a constant shade of cyan.

"Before she couldn't wear blue," explains Mum Veronika Klingler. "She would look like a smurf."

The world of a heart transplant child is one of befores and afters. A world in which the unremarkable becomes remarkable. In which 'normal' is a far off destination you never expect to reach. Continue reading

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