Chanel's Story

Please allow us to introduce you to Heart Hero and World Record Holder Chanel Murrish!  The world’s youngest ever open heart surgery patient, just minutes after she was born in April 2014.

Chanel, from Seaham in County Durham, entered the world with just half a heart, has had to undergo other procedures to keep her alive and defy medical expectations at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

And before her latest gruelling surgery, her one wish was to be kissed awake by Rapunzel – a dream made by the Disney princess!

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.


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 specialist 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 parents have also raised thousands for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital and have become keen supporters of the Red Sky Foundation taking some much deserved time out to enjoy the Red Sky Ball and The White Party!

Fay, 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, 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 has regular visits to the hospital, the youngster has started enjoying school wanting a normal life and that’s what she’s fighting for.

Its always a worry for the family, given Chanel’s condition, her safety is always at the top of the agenda for her parents, so when the Red Sky Foundation discovered her school in Seaham did not have a defibrillator and there wasn’t one nearby either we agreed to use some of our funds to provide a unit for her school.  Fay said, “Having already had one cardiac arrest, to have this potentially life saving machine gives us, school staff and other parents extra peace of mind should an emergency situation occur.