Heart patient Chanel's family bids to make it a happy Christmas for youngsters
A Seaham family are appealing for help to make it a merry Christmas for some of the region’s most seriously ill children.
Seven-year-old Chanel Murrish became the youngest patient ever to undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition while she was still in the womb.
She underwent surgery within minutes of being born, has had a number of operations since and is still regularly monitored at the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
And every year Chanel, mum and dad Fay and Michael and brothers Cole and Chase raise funds to buy toys and gifts for children who face spending Christmas on the ward.
Most years they are accompanied by a host of characters for their annual Christmas Eve visit – but Covid precautions put paid to that last year and this Christmas will be no different.
Now the family is appealing for help to buy gifts, with a deadline of the end of November.
Fay said the family knew how hard it could be for parents and children to be away from family and friends at the best of times, let alone at Christmas.
"When you are in hospital, it is the same every day,” she said.
"Three months was the longest stint we ever did, but because it is such a specialist unit, it can be far longer. They had one little boy who had been in there for 367 days.
"And it is one of only two such units in the country – there is only this and Great Ormond Street – so children might be having to travel and be separated from their parents.
“It is just heartbreaking, it is so sad.”
Because of Covid, the family is unable to buy specific presents for the children on the ward this year, but will be purchasing handmade gifts suitable for a range of ages, which is why donations need to be collected by the end of the month.
Anyone who wishes to donate to this year’s fund can visit the family’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/trr7e6-chanels-cause
Chanel’s story can be followed through the Facebook page Chanel Murrish HLHS.