SPLASHING around in the water at Brooms Head over Christmas, you'd never guess Ava Bancroft was the same sick little girl who featured on our front page two years ago.
The Daily Examiner first met Ava when she was five-years-old and suffering from a mysterious and extremely rare kidney condition known as Dense Deposit disease.
As doctors searched for a solution, her health continued to deteriorate and daily dialysis treatments became a way of life.
Her parents, James Bancroft - who grew up in the Clarence Valley - and Tegan, were told even a kidney transplant may not be a viable fix, but after close two years on dialysis she was finally put on the donor waiting list.
Just five weeks later, last Father's Day, the call they were waiting for came.
Mr Bancroft was at the Gold Coast when he received word from Westmead Hospital that a perfect donor match had been found, and rushed to Sydney to be with his family for the operation.
"I didn't sleep for 36 hours but as soon as I knew she was fine I fell into a coma," he said.
"It wasn't until next morning I got a message from my sister saying Happy Father's Day that I realised what day it was."
Four months later, Ava has come along in leaps and bounds - literally.
Prior to receiving her new kidney, a water allocation of 500mL a day was administered in a medicine cup and she weighed a meagre 14kg.
She now has to drink at least two and half litres of water a day to keep her kidney working.
Ava also put on more than 50 per cent of her body weight and developed boundless energy within the first month, her dad said.
"It's been a massive 180-degree shift for us," Mr Bancroft said.
"She's always been a happy kid but she's content now, and a lot happier with herself."
Ava is still on a high dose of immunosuppressants to deter rejection and has to undergo blood tests twice a week and see specialists. There is also a high chance the disease will reoccur in her new kidney , but the Bancroft family is living each day to the fullest.
"It's a really aggressive kidney disease; even with the transplant it's likely she'll lose the graft but we decided to go ahead with it anyway," Mr Bancroft said.
"The head renal specialist did some research and found one other case in the world with the same genetic mutation, and they were almost four years post transplant, so we're a bit more positive about the outcome now, but if we get anything past 12 months we'll be singing and dancing."
Over Christmas they spent two weeks at Brooms Head with the extended family.
"Last year, we had to stay at a friend's house in Gulmarrad to have the dialysis machine on a reliable power supply," he said.
"This year she could do everything; it was just a completely normal holiday. She made up for lost time, and barely spent a minute out of the water."
The proud dad also said that despite more than a term's worth of sick days last year, she has been accepted into an accelerated learning program.
"It's been seriously such a massive turnaround," he said.
"I think if people realise what a difference it made, it wouldn't be a difficult decision to be an organ donor.
"We were already registered donors before she got sick but being involved first hand and seeing what an impact it has on someone's life, I absolutely think everyone should be a donor.
"We're immensely grateful - it's a gift to us and the enormity of the decision that family made isn't lost on us."