Chanel Murrish celebrates fifth birthday as family pay tribute to record-breaking heart patient

A girl who became a record-breaker when she became the youngest to ever undergo a procedure to keep her alive has marked her fifth birthday.

By Fiona Thompson
Friday, 01 March, 2019, 05:00

Chanel Murrish was diagnosed with a rare condition which meant only half her heart worked while still in the womb and was rushed into surgery when she born by caesarian section in the cardiac theatre of Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Her parents Fay, 29, and Micheal, 32, were told fewer than 50% of children will make it to Chanel’s age and know her only chance of long-term survival is a heart transplant.

Chanel Murrish marked her birthday with a party.

Her birthday celebrations come just weeks after the Seaham couple were told she is epileptic after she suffered a seizure which led them to fear she was having a heart attack or another stroke, having suffered one as a tot which left her with cerebral palsy.

The Seaview Primary pupil has undergone surgery 23 times due to her heart problem and a series of other complications, which include palsy in the left side of her vocal chord and issues which mean she has to be peg fed.

Her birthday celebrations saw her serenaded by Disney characters Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, with the help of Make My Day Events, as she gathered with her family, including brothers Cole, six, and Chase, nine, and school pals before she opened her presents back at home.

On the day of her birth and every birthday since, her family has recorded her milestone by taking a footprint as a memento of her progress.

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider help Chanel Murrish celebrate her fifth birthday.

Fay said: “I think it’s so emotional for us to think back to everything that she’s been through as she gets older.

“When she was born, it was the first time we had ever left the boys, they were still asleep when we left for the hospital, Michael got a speeding ticket because we had to go to Newcastle and didn’t know it very well then.
“I remember saying if she doesn’t make it I wouldn’t have even touched her and he told he would bring her back to me so I could hold her.

“Now she’s a proper little princess, she’s the boss of both her brothers and they do absolutely everything for her.

“She’s so close to them and there’s only 18 months between her and Cole.

Chanel at seven days old, having already gone through her first round of heart surgery minutes after she was born.

“She’s a really girly girl too.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We take each day as it comes and enjoy life to its fullest.

“She’s our miracle and smiles through everything.

“She’s the biggest inspiration we have ever known and teaches everyone around her to always have faith.

Footprints taken from Chanel Murrish after her birth.

“There have been so many highs and lows, tears and smiles in between.”

Chanel is one of around five with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) with intact atrial septum, which means a drug which can be given to HLHS babies to keep open ducts to help them survive until they undergo surgery when they are a few days old does not work.

Her family fundraise to support the British Heart Foundation and have urged people to sign up to the Organ Donation Register.

Fay added: “We know Chanel will need a heart transplant in the future and we’re pleased to know the law is changing to opt out, but it can’t happen soon enough.

“People need to have that conversation with their loves ones and think about doing it if there’s a chance they can help others.”

Chanel’s story can be followed through www.facebook.com/ChanelMurrish/.

The footprints of Chanel Murrish taken on her fifth birthday.
A sleeping Chanel Murrish with one of her princess dolls after she underwent major surgery in October 2017.
Parents Micheal and Fay Murrish with Chanel before she went into theatre in October 2017.