BEHIND the smiles is a family plagued by tragedy.

Six-year-old Nikita Heeley faces a heart and lung transplant after being born with holes in her heart and lung problems.

But her mum Jean Johnson is fearing the worst having already suffered the heartache of losing a child.

Jean’s son Lee died suddenly on his 18th birthday in 2002 after contracting bronchial pneumonia.

And there was added concern for the family when it was confirmed last week that the specialist children’s heart unit in Leeds is to stop doing surgery.

Jean, who is a Sure Start centre volunteer said: “Losing one child is bad enough, but the thought of losing two doesn’t bear thinking about.

“To have your first-born die on his 18th birthday is one of the worst things that could happen and no mother should ever have to go through it.

“It was supposed to be his big day and we had a party for him the day before.

“He was a right character.

“We didn’t know anything was wrong with Lee, he went upstairs and then my daughter Cheryl and I heard a thud.

“I went to check on him and Cheryl went to get a neighbour who then tried CPR, but he was gone.

“Nikita is so precious and I couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to her.

“I am probably more protective after losing Lee. Sometimes when I watch her playing with her older sister Kayleigh, I get very emotional.”

Moments after giving birth to Nikita in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Jean watched in horror as doctors rushed her away.

The Newsome mum was told her daughter had a double hole in her heart and needed immediate specialist treatment at the cardiac unit in Leeds.

Soon after, they discovered Nikita was suffering from Pulmonary hyper-tension – which is an abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. It makes the right side of the heart need to work harder than normal.

One of the holes has since healed, but her heart is also on the wrong side, which means that she faces other internal complications.

The Hillside Primary pupil gets out of breath easily and also struggles to walk very far.

Doctors are trying to hold off on performing the lung and heart transplant until Nikita is a little bit older and has grown.

Jean continued: “We want to wait as long as possible, as she is so young.”

Last week, the family faced another devastating blow when a panel made the decision to axe Yorkshire’s only children’s heart surgery unit based at Leeds General Infirmary, which Nikita uses monthly.

This means that children from across Huddersfield and Calderdale and their families face a trip to Liverpool, Newcastle or even further afield for heart surgery.

Jean, who is also a member of the Newsome Tenants and Residents Association, said: “They can’t close the unit.

“There are so many families that need it, look at us.

“I don’t know what we would have done if Leeds was closed when Nikita was born. We don’t know whether she would have made it to Newcastle or Liverpool.

“Her dad went in the ambulance with her to Leeds and it was only around 30 minutes away.

“I don’t know how we will get Nikita to the other centres for her appointments either, it is so far.

“And when she goes in for her operation, it will be near impossible to sort out childcare for my other daughter Kayleigh, it affects the whole family.

“I don’t understand how it can save money when children will have to be taken everywhere by Air Ambulance, which surely costs a lot?

“They offer great support and when doctors told me there was little that could be done for Nikita, they assured me at Leeds she could receive a transplant.”