Laura Whitworth is an active and determined 12-year-old.

And in June, she completed a 16-mile charity walk in the Peak District.

You wouldn’t think that nine years ago Laura received a new heart after a series of life-threatening illnesses.

In 2007, Laura was attached to an artificial heart machine.

She had been diagnosed with an enlarged heart and was struck down with infection after infection.

Her parents Julia and Andy knew that the next illness could kill her – so they put her on a heart transplant list.

When a heart became available the Mirfield family were whisked from Leeds General Infirmary to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, by an RAF helicopter.

The donor heart, however, almost didn’t make it when the ambulance carrying it swerved to avoid a car, hit a kerb and burst two tyres.

Laura Whitworth, aged two, in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for her heart transplant.

The driver flagged down good Samaritan Margaret Rollinson and the pair raced off to the hospital via a police station in Margaret’s old Volvo.

Laura is still in touch with Margaret who she calls her ‘guardian angel.’

After a fortnight, Laura was discharged from hospital and since then she’s been mostly well.

Andy and her sister Lucie, 13, have completed charity walks before.

But this time Laura was determined to join the trek to raise cash for Heart Research UK.

Mum Julia, 40, said: “Laura said if Lucie was doing it, then she’d be doing it too.

“She’s very determined, though after two miles she did ask if they’d finished yet!

“Laura does everything anyone else does and she’ll push herself.

“The heart has grown with her and she’s kept active all the time. Doctors have said the more active she is, the better.”

Laura Whitworth (right) aged 2, who has just had a heart transplant, pictured with her sister Lucie aged 4 at their home at Mirfield. 16 August 2007.

But Laura’s life after the operation hasn’t been trouble-free.

The anti-rejection drugs she must take for the rest of her life leave her vulnerable to infections.

She had a three-month bout of chickenpox during which she had to remain on an intravenous drip in hospital.

And eight years ago she contracted encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain, which necessitated another stay in Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

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Laura and her family constantly have to watch out for sources of potential infections; when you’re taking anti-rejection drugs a cold or tonsillitis can take a long time to shake.

The Castle Hall Academy pupil has to take nine pills a day and will become visibly unwell if she misses a dose.

Julia said: “You have to watch everything, even things like cold sores. If someone’s had chickenpox at school, I’ll need to know where it was.

“Last time she got tonsillitis she had to go into hospital because it was that bad.

Laura Whitworth of Blake Hall Drive, Mirfield, a healthy 12-year-old after having a heart transplant 10 years ago.

“If someone sneezes it’s almost like you have to run away.”

But Julia adds: “We do try to do things normally.”

Laura attends check-ups four times a year – two at LGI and two at Great Ormond Street.

But the check-ups, or ‘MOTs’ as the family calls them, always come back clear.

Laura has the odd wobble.

Julia said: “When the medicine needs tweaking she gets a bit ratty.

“Occasionally she asks: ‘Why is it always me? What have I done wrong?’

“But she takes it on the chin.”

And Julia added: “She never gets exhausted or frustrated by it.”

Like many girls she dreamt of being a doctor or a nurse.

Laura Whitworth of Blake Hall Drive, Mirfield, is a healthy 12 year old, after having a heart transplant 10 years ago, pictured with sister Lucie and mum Julia.

Now as she approaches adolescence, she fancies becoming a model – and her scars won’t stop her.

Julia said: “I’ve told her there’s nothing to be ashamed of and to be proud of what she’s got.

“She wouldn’t be around if they weren’t there.”

Today Laura is a confident 12-year-old who loves running, singing, baking and spending time with her friends and family.

Julia said: “She’s lovely – she has a heart of gold.

“She’s always there for her friends and she loves life.

“I’m very proud of her.”

Heart swap girl Laura Whitworth, of Mirfield, is the picture of health at the age of 12.