Kambreigh Neil smiles in her chair while her two older brothers play near the Christmas Tree. It's a moment their mother, Britney Neil of Mulberry, thought might never come.
Kambreigh was born in May with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare heart defect that left her left ventricle unformed. She essentially has half a heart and has had to endure several open heart surgeries and been on life support in her first few months of life.
"At any time, she could get very sick and we could lose her. You just never know," Britney Neil said.
Neil says one in 100 babies are born with a heart defect and of those, one in 10,000 babies is born with hypoplastic heart syndrome. Kambreigh requires 18 medications to help her.
"When you take a baby home for the first time, a normal baby, you take for granted all the firsts. All the little things that you get to experience like their first laugh and their first time smiling at you and all the things that you take for granted when you go through what we've been through in the past six months," Neil said.
The Neils spent 206 days at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, spending every summer holiday and Thanksgiving together up there. So the family is cherishing every laugh, smile and memory they can get this Christmas, at their own home.
"You don't take that for granted anymore. You look at it as this might be her last Christmas with us. We thank God every single day that we get to wake up with her and that I get to wake up with my other two kids because you never know when. Just because they're a child doesn't mean they're going to live forever," Neil said.
Kambreigh will need another surgery by the time she is two or three, but it's a scary journey the family is taking step by step. They saw seven babies with similar defects pass away at Children's Mercy during their stay there.
"Every single day is a blessing. Every single day is a miracle. Every time she looks at you, every time she smiles at you and to have her home for Christmas is a huge, huge blessing," Neil said.
For more on Kambreigh's journey, look up "Kambreigh's Courage #warriorprincess" on Facebook.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas