LITTLE Bronte Cassell has uttered the first sentence of her life after an operation to restore her voice - and declared: “I love you, Daddy.”
Bronte, aged two, was able to speak for the first time ever after doctors removed tubes fitted because the youngster could not breathe unaided.
Her overjoyed mum Hellen, aged 41, told The Star: “It’s been a long time in the waiting but more than worth it to hear those wonderful words.
“My husband Martin looked at her and said, ‘I love you Bronte’, and she just looked back and said, ‘I love you Daddy’.
“Then she looked at me and said, ‘I love you too, Mummy’.
“We just looked at each other and cried. It was the first time we had ever heard her really speak.”
When Bronte was just six months old she had to undergo a tracheostomy operation to help her breathe.
Because the tubes were inserted below her voice box, as little Bronte grew older she was left unable to speak.
But by communicating with her brother Noah, who is just eight months older, she did learn how to mouth words.
So when the tubes were removed by doctors at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Bronte was at last able to say a full sentence, to the joy of her parents.
Martin, 41, an engineer, said: “It was one of the best days of our lives to see Bronte without her tubes and oxygen tank and to hear her say she loved us for the first time.”
Bronte, from Rotherham, was born extremely premature, at 25 weeks, weighing just 1lb 12oz.
Her first 15 weeks of life were spent in hospital, switching between the intensive and special care wards.
At the age of six months she stopped breathing due to a tight narrowing just below the vocal cords, and underwent the tracheostomy before Christmas 2009.
Hellen, who worked in sales before her children were born, said: “It was a very hard time, but we had no choice but to get on with it. She was so small I just could not understand how she survived.
“But she has a lot of fight in her, she is really feisty.
“They put the tubes in just below her vocal cords so she couldn’t make any real words, but we did sign language with her and she would watch her brother forming words.
“So she began to speak, but no noise would come out.”
Martin said: “It will make a massive difference to her quality of life.”
Children’s Hospital surgeon Neil Bateman, who removed the tubes, said: “It was a pleasure to operate on Bronte and be able to give her this new lease of life.
“It can be hard for families adapting to a tracheostomy but for Bronte it has helped her to get through a difficult period of her life and it’s fantastic she’s now enjoying what a lot of other children can take for granted.
“We take the greatest care with every single one of our patients and are always pleased to see them recovering so well.”