A brave Derry girl who underwent open heart surgery at just two-years-old has decided to raise much-needed funds for a heart charity.

Stephanie Doran is now an active nine-year–old with a keen interest in singing, dancing and amateur dramatics.

But when she was younger she suffered from both congenital heart disease and a hole in the heart.

Doctors decided to operate when she was just two and a half after the hole in her heart grew from the size of a 1p coin to the size of a 2p coin in just three months.

“Stephanie had very little energy and her immune system was very low so her early childhood was very limited,” explained her mum Lisa.

“When the doctors in Belfast realised the hole in her heart was getting bigger they just said we have to act now.

“We had a very anxious wait because we didn’t know when we would get the call.

“The day she went in for the operation was the worst time in my life.

“She was in for eight hours and every minute felt like an hour.”

Thankfully, the operation was a success and made a huge difference to Stephanie’s quality of life.

“She just never looked back,” said Lisa.

“After the fourth day she was sitting up in bed laughing- we couldn’t believe it.

“As the days were getting on she was running about the ward.

“We’d never seen her able to do that before and the joy for us as parents was amazing.

“I was panicking a bit but the doctor said just let her go, she’ll know herself when she’s had enough.”

The family were supported by the Children’s Heart Beat Trust during their time in Belfast and raised £2,800 for the charity to say thank you.

Stephanie, who is now nine, recently began asking questions about her operation.

“She was curious to know what happened, so I explained,” said Lisa.

“I told her we did a lot of fundraising at the time because I wanted to let her know that positive things came out of too.

“And she decided she’d like to raise some more money for the Children’s Heart Beat Trust herself.”

Stephanie got to work making Christmas decorations and the family held a Christmas charity fun day.

They are now hosting a ticket only St Patrick’s Day event at the Delacroix on Tuesday, March 14 with a variety show and charity auction.

“The generosity of Derry public has just been amazing,” said Lisa.

“We would like to thank everyone who has donated prizes for the night- we have everything from beauty vouchers to gym memberships.

“There are so many families that are in need and the money is much needed to allow the Children’s Heart Best Trust the work they do.”

Tickets are available from The Delacroix or from the Facebook pages Stephanie’s Little Christmas Tree and St Patrick’s Heart.

Stephanie is pictured above receiving a cheque from St Eugene's PS principal Declan Hegarty from the proceeds of a recent non-uniform day at the school.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email [email protected] or [email protected] at any time.