By Padraic Flanagan
10:25AM BST 07 Apr 2014
A baby girl has become Britain’s youngest open heart surgery patient after undergoing a life-saving operation within minutes of being born.
Chanel Murrish, now six weeks old, developed a rare heart condition in the womb which doctors said she was unlikely to survive.
Her mother Fay was twice offered a termination but scan images apparently showing the baby giving a “thumbs up” convinced the 24-year-old that she was right to continue the pregnancy.
Minutes after she was delivered by caesarean section, and even before she could be weighed, Chanel underwent the first operation on her heart.
Pictures released by Fay and her husband Micheal, 27, show the 7lb newborn connected to a tangle of tubes and wires in the intensive care unit, a teddy bear by her side.
A feeding tube in her left nostril carries nutrients to her stomach while a tube in her other nostril connects her to a ventilator to help her breathing. Two tubes to her belly button are connected a blood-circulating pump, while other wires monitor her heart rhythm and oxygen levels.
When Chanel was seven days old, doctors felt she was strong enough to undergo another heart operation. Doctors say she is now making good progress.
Chanel had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which meant only one half of her heart was beating. The condition affects one in three million newborns.
Her parents were referred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where her parents said doctors first offered them the termination.
“We were told Chanel could have operations, but would have only a 50-50 chance of surviving the first and would need two more,” Mrs Murrish told the Sunday Mirror.
“Even her life expectancy would only be to young adulthood and she would eventually need a heart transplant
“When you hear that you wonder if you could bring a child into the world. But Chanel started kicking. There was no way I could have a termination. I know she wanted to live because she was giving a huge thumbs-up at her scan.”
Further problems were detected with the blood flow in Chanel’s heart, cutting her chances of surviving surgery to 20 per cent. Again, the couple were asked to consider a termination but said they were determined to go through with the birth.
Within minutes of Chanel’s arrival on February 24, at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, surgeons placed a stent in her heart so that she could survive long enough to have corrective surgery.
“It was awful,” Mrs Murrish said. “I didn’t even get a chance to hold her before she was taken away.”
A week after her birth, Chanel underwent a seven-hour operation. She is now out of intensive care and making progress, but doctors say she will need two further operations.
Her parents, from Seaham, County Durham, have since been able to introduce their new daughter to their two other children, Chase, four, and Cole, 22 months.
The family is now fundraising for the Freeman Hospital and have collected more than £2,000. To contribute, go to: http://www.justgiving.com/ChanelMurrish-HLHS