A STUDENT defied the odds by passing her exams after overcoming a series of heart operations.

Amelia Digby, of New Rickstones Academy in Witham, was diagnosed with a heart condition after a panic attack at the age of 13.

She then underwent open heart surgery and three keyhole procedures in the run up to her GCSE exams, which took her away from her studies for months at a time.

Despite the setbacks Amelia was determined to succeed and picked up a grade 7, three grade 6s, three grade 5s, a grade B and a Distinction on GCSE results day.

She said: “I feel so happy with my results. I felt I only had one shot at my GCSEs and so gave it my best.

“I feel really good health-wise. I had a check-up last week which found I need another operation around October, but I feel really well. That operation should be the end of it.”

It was a long road for Amelia but she said she was glad she persevered.

“During Year 9 I was taken in for a simple surgery but it turned out to be a lot worse than it was meant to be,” she said.

“That turned into three keyhole surgeries and open-heart surgery, and I have more operations to come.

“All the time I had it in the back of my mind I was not going to catch up with my schoolwork and that made me panic.

“The school was really good and gave me work I could do from home when I felt up to it. It is 100 per cent because of that help that I have managed to get these results.

“I felt I had done everything I could do for the exams. I could not have done anything more. Every spare bit of time I have had, I put all my effort into my exams. My teachers were so good in supporting me.”

Proud mum Kate Hogger said: “It has been extremely emotional. I can’t believe it. Well, I can, because she has worked so hard after her setback and she deserves this success.

“When she got poorly, the headteacher Damian Lee called and said Amelia was not to worry about school.

“For me it was also always about her getting better as it was quite serious, but for Amelia keeping up with her schoolwork was a massive weight off her mind and that actually helped her to recover.

“The school has been fantastic. They kept her in the loop and her tutor brought work round for her to do. It was a setback, but she worked so hard to catch up.”

Having achieved higher in her maths than expected, Amelia is considering studying an A-level in the subject.