A three-year-old girl from Seaham who underwent open heart surgery just minutes after her birth has been recognised with the highest honour in County Durham.
Chanel Murrish was diagnosed with a rare and incurable heart condition known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) before she was born and had three open heart surgeries before she was six months old.
She holds a Guinness World Record for the youngest ever open heart surgery patient and has since overcome a cardiac arrest and a major stroke, spending much of her life on a hospital ward and undergoing several further operations.
Chanel – who also lives with cerebral palsy – now faces a full heart transplant should her condition deteriorate.
Despite all of this, she is a keen fundraiser for multiple heart charities, and has raised over £5,000 for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund at the Freeman Hospital by selling bracelets and doing sponsored walks.
She has now become the youngest ever recipient of the Chairman’s Medal, which is presented to individuals and organisations for outstanding voluntary contribution to County Durham.
In awarding her the medal, Chairman Cllr Kellett praised her dedication to fundraising and the work she has done to raise awareness of congenital heart defects.
“Chanel is an inspirational little girl and despite facing some huge challenges of her own she is always thinking of how she can help others,” he said.
“It was an honour to be able to present her with this award which recognises all of her hard work and dedication in the face of adversity.”
Chanel’s mum, Fay Murrish, said: “She goes through more than anyone I have ever seen for her age, at times it is incredibly heart breaking. She goes through something daily and is so brave and never complains.
“She helps so many families with not just hope and support but also her amazing kindness and outstanding fundraising for her age. She puts her own difficulties and struggles aside to help others.”