Toddler Chanel Murrish has become a groundbreaker once again after undergoing an operation which aims to get her to adulthood before she needs a new heart.
The three-year-old was born with half a working heart and became the youngest baby to ever undergo open heart surgery, going into theatre just moments after she was delivered by caesarean section.
Now she has become the first toddler in the country with the combination of two rare conditions and to undergo a special procedure to keep the blood pumping around her body to make up for the fact that she has a heart defect.
Doctors at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle spent six hours carrying out surgery to connect arteries in her legs to her lungs, which means muscles in her calves will help pump blood around her body.
The op is her fourth major round of surgery and was needed because Chanel, from Seaham, was struggling to breathe in enough oxygen and her lips were turning purple.
It is hoped the surgery will help her thrive for as long as possible, but her mum Fay and dad Micheal know that the only long-term answer to help her survive is a heart transplant once she is older.
It will be a long recovery, but she’s happy to be home.Fay Murrish
Fay, 28, and HGV driver Micheal, 31, were told before their girl was born that she had hypoplastic heart syndrome, which means only half her heart works, with the added complication of having with an Intact Atrial Septum.
They were given the option of having a termination or allowing her to be born naturally and pass away in their arms, but the pair refused to give up on their girl.
Chanel is now recovering at home after her latest spell in hospital.
Fay, who is also mum to Chase, seven, and Cole, five, said: “I think it was even more heartbreaking this time because she is so much older.
“We also knew she was going to come back out on a life support machine.
“You can’t actually sleep over on intensive care so it was a matter of one us being there 24/7 and each taking it in shifts of four hours.
“She was in intensive care for six days before she was moved to a normal ward.
“She’s doing ok, but she’s still very poorly and has got some fluid on her lungs, so we’re trying to shift that.
“They were a bit worried that the surgery hadn’t worked at first and ended up back in theatre again the next day. She suffers from a stroke and has cerebral palsy so that’s left her even more wobbly on her feet.
“When they didn’t think her circulation was working properly, her kidneys and liver took a big hit and she ended up on dyalisis. She had seven drains put in, which was very painful for her.
“It will be a long recovery, but she’s happy to be home.”
Fay has praised the Freemen for their care of Chanel.
Since before she was born, they have backed the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) and have raised £5,000 to support its work so far.
Next Sunday, Micheal will run the Great North Run for the first time to collect more funds.
To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ChanelsCause, while Chanel’s progress can be followed via https://www.facebook.com/ChanelMurrishHLHS/.