Toddler Bronte Cassell, who was born extremely premature, was given a tracheotomy to help her breathe when she was six months old.
But because the tubes were inserted below her voice box she was left unable to speak.
After living with the breathing apparatus for a year and a half doctors at Sheffield Children’s Hospital were finally able to remove the tubes, bringing her parents to tears with her first words.
Mother Hellen, 41, from Rotherham said: ‘It’s been a long time in the waiting but more than worth it to hear those wonderful words.
‘My husband Martin looked at her and said : ‘I love you Bronte’ and she looked back and said “I love you daddy”. Then she looked at me and said ‘ I love you too mummy’.
‘We just looked at each other and cried. It was the first time we had ever heard her really speak.’
Bronte born at 25 weeks and weighing just 1lb 12 oz, spent her first 15 weeks of life in hospital switching between intensive care and special care wards.
At the age of six months she stopped breathing due to a tight narrowing just below her vocal cords and underwent the tracheotomy before Christmas 2009.
Unable to speak the toddler learned how to use sign language and to mouth words by communicating with her brother Noah, who is eight months older.
Surgeons eventually operated on Bronte, removing the tubes and oxygen supply, enabling her larynx to function properly.
Her father Martin, 41, said: ‘It was one of the best days of our lives to see Bronte without her tubes and oxygen tank and to hear her say she loved us for the first time.’
Neil Bateman, the surgeon who removed the tubes, said: ‘It was a pleasure to operate on Bronte and be able to give her this new lease of life.
‘It can be hard for families adapting to tracheotomy but for Bronte it has helped her to get through a difficult period of her life and it’s fantastic she’s now enjoying what a lot of other children can take for granted.‘