Chanel Murrish's Story
The world’s youngest ever open heart surgery patient had her dreams come true when she was woken by a Disney princess following her fourth operation.
Chanel Murrish, now three, from Newcastle, was awarded a Guinness World Record for the feat which occurred just minutes after she was born in April 2014.
But since entering the world with just half a heart, she has had to undergo three other procedures to keep her alive and defy medical expectations.
And before her latest grueling surgery, her one wish was to be kissed awake by Rapunzel – a dream made true by a local character-hire company.
Chanel initially experienced a ‘rocky few days’ after the procedure, with her organs failing during the surgery and being struck by a dangerous fluid build-up.
But now, one week after the major operation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, she is ‘drinking cups of tea like an old lady’, her proud mother Fay said.
Mrs Murrish said: ‘The first thing she asked for when she came round was a cup of tea and since then she’s had the nurses making cups of tea for her night and day.’
Babies born with half a heart, a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), usually need three open-heart surgeries.
But for Chanel it’s even more severe because she was born with an additional problem, an intact atrial septum.
She is now believed to be the oldest-surviving child in the UK who suffers from both of these conditions.
Despite four operations, she will eventually need a heart transplant, according to the doctors who have so far kept her alive.
The chances of getting a suitable organ will have increased by the time she reaches adulthood and can have a full-sized heart.
Because of her heart defect, Chanel received all of her oxygen in the womb through the umbilical cord.
When she was born and this was cut she turned blue due to lack of air and was immediately rushed into surgery.
The operation meant the newborn is now the youngest open-heart surgery patient – performed just one minute after her birth.
After two more open-heart surgeries, the youngster even managed to learn to walk, overcoming the effects of a stroke and living with cerebral palsy.
Throughout her life, Chanel’s family has raised thousands for the children’s heart unit in the Freeman Hospital.
Mrs Murrish, married to Michael, won a special recognition award for her efforts at the Pride of the North East awards.
She has now nominated Chanel for the Chronicle Champions Child of Courage Award, praising her daughter’s ‘strength and determination’.
Mrs Murrish added: ‘She is the biggest inspiration we have ever known, and teaches everyone around her to always have faith.’
Since the latest operation, Chanel has been taken off dialysis and is determined to recover with her sights set on going to nursery.
Although she is still in hospital, the youngster is hoping to start nursery in October, according to Mrs Murrish.
She said: ‘Chanel can’t wait. If it was up to me, I’d keep her home forever, but she is such a sociable child that it’s only fair to her.
‘She wants a normal life and that’s what she’s fighting for. If she is strong enough, the plan is for her to start at the nursery at her brothers’ school.
‘The other children will start in September, and then I will take her in once they’ve settled in.’
Photos of the toddler trying on her uniform were posted on the ‘Chanel Murrish HLHS’ Facebook page.