LIKE millions of children across the world, little Lucy Rees is looking forward to Christmas, but her experience is set to be extra special - as she'll be able to hear for the first time.
When the tiny tot was born prematurely on December 1 2007, doctors believed she would be dead within hours due a mass of health problems caused by Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
The illness, a type of herpes virus, can also cause hearing impairments and left Lucy profoundly deaf.
But the determined 11-month-old fought against the odds and grew into a bubbly, bouncy baby.
"It was a huge shock as I'd never even heard of CMV," said mum-of-three Louise Rees, pictured right.
"You get warned about all kinds of diseases your unborn child could have but not this one."
A few months ago, Louise and husband Mark, of Ladbrook Road, discovered their child was entitled to receive a double cochlear implant on the NHS.
The implants cost £55,000 and Lucy was one of the youngest to receive one.
The electronic device will allow her to hear sounds for the first time in her life.
"We are really looking forward to her first birthday and Christmas and all the sounds and songs that come with it," said Louise. "It was a rotten Christmas Day last year, as Lucy came home the day before and was quite ill. In a way this will be her first Christmas too."
Lucy had the surgery at Birmingham Children's Hospital last week and is due to have the implant fully activated on November 10.
Following that, she will receive intense speech therapy from a team of specialists at Aston University.
Louise said: "Lucy is always going to be profoundly deaf, when the external parts are removed, to swim, bathe or go to bed, but the family are so grateful she has the chance to experience more of life."
"Lucy would like to say thank you to staff nurses at Solihull Hospital, Heart-lands neo-natal ward, Birmingham Children's Hospital and the team at Aston University," she added.