A YOUNG boy is preparing for a major operation in which half of his heart will be replaced with a mechanism to increase blood flow.

Sonny-Lee Cook, 4, from Jaywick, was born prematurely in December 2016, arriving eight weeks earlier than planned and weighing just 3lb 40z.

Since then he has battled critical congenital heart disease, which hinders the ability of his organs and body tissues to receive sufficient oxygen.

As a result of the condition, only half of his heart actually functions and there is always a potential for the disease to threaten his life.

In his short life, Sonny-Lee has already endured nine operations on his struggling heart.

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Earlier this month the inspiring hero went under the knife at the Royal Brompton Hospital where he had coils put into his heart and a special balloon to help open up his arteries.

Sonny-Lee’s mum, Nell Dreelan, 32, said: “It went well, but it was more of a prep surgery to ensure he was safe for his big one.

“Sonny understands he needs surgery to fix his heart, but he doesn’t fully understand why.”

Sonny-Lee’s loved ones are now looking ahead to his total cavopulmonary connection operation, which will be carried out in two parts around May and June.

It will see the non-functioning half of his heart completely replaced with a mechanism which will hopefully increase the flow of blood to his lungs.

“Me and his dad and the whole family are sick with worry,” added Nell.

“The right side will not pump like a normal heart anymore, and dependant on how it goes, his recovery could take anywhere from eight to 12 weeks.”

“But we hold faith in the hospital and his main consultant who has kept him alive all this time.

“You never know what will happen but my whole trust is in them.”

If the major surgery does not have the desired result, Sonny-Lee’s family will have to decide whether or not to put him through an entire heart transplant.

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Nell added: “I just want him Sonny-Lee to be able to be as normal as he can.

“I want him to experience life in school and I want him to one day become a man.”