FIND ME A NEW HEART; Fragile baby Tase in desperate fight for life.
As the minutes ticked away last night her desperate mum and dad made a last ditch public plea against the clock to "save their beautiful baby".
Their tearful cry for help mirrors that of the parents of six-year-old heart-swap girl Sally Slater, whose mum and dad begged Britain to find a donor for their precious child.
A donor was found with hours to spare and the youngster now has a fragile grip on life.
Now Tase's parents Kirsty and Derek hope their 11th hour appeal will also give their "always smiling" daughter, pictured, a second chance. Please, please, please, if anyone can help, please help Tase," said 30-year-old Kirsty, who lost a son two years ago.
"She is so beautiful, so tiny and so courageous and we want to give her every chance possible.
"Doctors have told us her condition is grave and she is surviving hour by hour.
"I know it's a hard thing to do - to give up your child's heart - but we're begging anyone out there to help if they can."
Tase was rushed into hospital last Thursday - four days after her first birthday.
Weighing only 13lbs, the tot has been on a transplant list for a new heart since November.
Devoted mum Kirsty, from Cardiff, counts every day with her daughter as a bonus and carries a special bleeper in case a donor is found.
But last week Tase was more poorly than usual and was rushed to the city's University Hospital of Wales where mum and dad have kept a bedside vigil ever since.
She has a viral infection and is hooked up to a ventilator and life support machine.
Kirsty and 50-year-old builder Derek made their plea as their daughter had emergency surgery after her kidneys failed.
Doctors wouldn't normally operate on such a sick child but because Tase's only chance of life is a transplant, they are willing to take the risk.
Heart specialists at Harefield Hospital are on 24-hour standby in case Tase's parents' plea comes up trumps.
If a donor can be found Tase will be taken to the Cambridgeshire medical centre by air ambulance.
In an isolation room next door to Tase's intensive care ward - with all the life-saving paraphernalia hanging on the walls - Kirsty praised her baby girl and any family who could help her.
"She humbles me because she is so brave," said Kirsty, who found out her daughter had heart problems when she was only 10 weeks old.
"All she does is smile despite all the pain, operations, needles, blood samples and drugs she goes through.
"Every morning she greets us with a smile. She never whinges, never cries, just smiles and flashes her big brown eyes."
The couple have already been hit by tragedy when they lost their son Connor at birth.
The anniversary of his death looms next month as they wait anxiously praying by Tase's bed.
Kirsty added: "Then we had Tase. She was so beautiful and a real fighter even then because I had a problem pregnancy.
"She was put on a life support machine and seemed to be doing fine - the perfect child - until she started getting breathing problems.
"That's when we found out she had a weak heart. Now, in an even more cruel twist of fate, we could lose a second child.
"There may not be a lot of change but if we can find a donor she will fight to smile her smile again."
But the couple know Tase's life can only be saved and their plight eased by another set of parents suffering tragically.
"There must be a parent out there who will have to go through their own grieving process and lose a loved child.
"All we can hope is that they can have some understanding and find it in themselves to help us. That's all we ask. The chance to see her smile every morning. So if anyone can help, please, please, please ring the hospital and help save our baby."
Only a week ago heart-swap girl Sally Slater got a new heart after her parents went public with their tragedy.
The little schoolgirl is still "poorly but progressing" in hospital and her mum Bridget and father Jon are praying for the miracle both family's seek.
Jon, 36, said: "The risks of rejection and infection are huge, and we have to be apprehensive. We can only pray that Sally pulls through."
Derek last night said he knew exactly what the Slaters were going through.
He added: "Nothing else mattered when your little girl is ill. I would give the world to see Tase have a fighting chance.
"All we can hope is that there is another family out there who can help us," said Derek, holding Kirsty's shaking hand.
The pair look physically shattered, drinking coffee to stay awake while their little girl battles for breath.
"She is such a terrific little girl, a real ray of sunshine. We know what the other family have been going through and hope we will be just as fortunate as them."
Outside Tase's intensive care ward-cum-operating theatre eight of the family are gathered in silence.
There are no words to describe what they are going through - only an occasional hug and squeeze of the shoulder says what they feel.
Through the swinging doors a little girl - they all care so much about - is hoping a whole country will help her fight her corner for life.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Apr 10, 2000|
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