A happy birthday to amazing Dottie - the Hartlepool princess who has amazed doctors three years after she could hardly walk
Just look at Dottie O’Keefe now as she celebrates her seventh birthday.
Hartlepool Mail readers will remember the “little fighter” who was only four years old when she made the headlines in 2018.
That’s when she underwent a £35,000 operation that kind supporters helped to pay for.
What a difference three years makes - the Hartlepool youngster is seven today and she has made astonishing progress.
Dottie has cerebral palsy and back in 2018 she could hardly walk.
Now, she can walk all over and only needs one stick to help her.
When she went for a check-up at Leeds General Hospital last week, doctors could not believe how well she was doing and told her family they were "really pleased with her”.
Mum Helen Noon today told of her Dottie’s inspiring attitude to life.
"Dottie used to be really shy and wouldn’t try anything. Now, whether she is in the classroom at school or in the garden, she will give anything a go. It might not happen for her but she will say ‘well I tried’.”
In 2018, Dottie spent five hours on the operating table at Leeds General Infirmary for the operation to her spine called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) which is an operation used to reduce muscle stiffness.
It was a huge success and later that year, she even walked across the finish line at the 2018 Miles for Men 5k event in Hartlepool to raise money for charity.
Born weighing just 1lb 90z, Dottie has had to battle all her life, even fighting back from meningitis when she was only one.
The youngster, who goes to Grange Primary School, won a Child of Courage trophy at the 2018 Best of Hartlepool Awards and the trophy took pride of place on the family mantelpiece.
Helen said at the time: “Dottie won’t let me move it!”.
Today, she described her daughter as "a proper princess” who loves Disney.
"She keeps trying her best,” said Helen. “If she keeps getting better at things then that will be great. But if she stays where she is, that’s fine because she has come on loads.”