A five-year-old girl with a rare condition which means she could die if she gets upset is celebrating Christmas early after receiving hundreds of cards from strangers.
Brave Isabell Salat suffers from four life-threatening Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) which means her heart becomes starved of oxygen if she becomes emotional.
She had excessive fat and muscle around her pulmonary artery from birth that mean she goes “floppy” and her nose, lips, fingers and toenails turn blue.
Isabell had open-heart surgery at six months old, but the fat has grown back and last year she almost died when she got upset.
Mum Kimberley, 27, and her fiance Ian Salat, 39, appealed on Facebook for strangers to send Isabell Christmas cards to keep her smiling, and ultimately keep her alive.
Incredibly, just weeks later, Isabell’s home in Walsall, West Mids., has been deluged with more than 200 cards from wellwishers from across the country.
Kimberley said: “Isabell was so happy and excited when she saw all her Christmas cards. She runs downstairs every day so see what the postman has brought for her.
“She is a little girl and shouldn’t have to worry about how her heart condition is affecting her.
“She’s received posters, Frozen merchandise, Hello Kitty jewellery, and lots more gifts.
“At first it was very overwhelming and I broke down crying on a number of occasions.
“It really restored my faith in humanity and made me realise that there are kind people out there.
“We have had about 200 cards so far and we would love to get some more so she has an extra special Christmas Day.”
Congenital Heart Defects stem from a mutation of chromosomes in the womb.
Isabell was misdiagnosed at Walsall Manor Hospital at birth, and the illness was only identified six weeks later at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, West Mids.
She underwent emergency open-heart surgery at six months old where the excess fat and muscle was cut from her pulmonary artery.
But in May medics told Isabell’s parents they had to wait for Isabell to “deteriorate more” until they could give her a life-saving pulmonary artery transplant.
Kimberley, who has three other children, said: “It was absolutely heart-breaking. They were asking us to watch her get worse in front of us.
“When she was first born she was blue and really cold, but doctors just said she had a low temperature and sent her home.
“Six weeks later we were told she actually had Congenital Heart Defects, which can easily be detected before birth.
“What is incredibly upsetting is that the surgery they performed on her when she was six months old was only temporary.
“If they had done that with Isabell we wouldn’t be in this situation. She’s too old to have that now though.
“If Isabell cries, is upset or is very tired she doesn’t have enough oxygen-rich blood to support her organs so it can get pretty dangerous.
“We have to be careful with her moods and make sure she doesn’t over exert herself.”
If you would like to send Isabell a card then post it to Isabell’s grandparents home, which is: 2 Howes Croft, Castle Vale, Birmingham, B35 7EL.
*Isabell suffers from four heart conditions which are:
1.Ventricular septal defect (VSD) – a hole in the heart.
3.Pulmonary stenosis – narrowing of the right ventrical.
4.Right ventricular hypertrophy.