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HEART 2 HEART; Kid neighbours have same day transplants.

Byline: BY IAN KEY

TWO youngsters who live just streets apart got new hearts on the same day at the same hospital.

In what is thought to be a British medical first, surgeons performed the life-saving heart transplants within minutes of each other.

Although they live close by, the parents of 10- month-old Ellen Walsh and Patrick Skinner, two-and-a-half, had no idea they were facing the same ordeal.

Now close friends, the parents are anxiously waiting for signs of progress in the intensive care ward at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital after last week's surgery. Just weeks ago, Ellen and Patrick's lives hung in the balance with both put on the heart transplant register.

Their plight brought Patrick's parents Kevin, 28, and Devon, 25, together with Ellen's parents Stefanie, 30, and Ian, 34. The families live just yards away from each other in West Monkseaton, near Whitley Bay.

So when the Walshs got a call to say doctors had a donor heart for Ellen their joy was tinged with sadness for Patrick's family.

Stefanie said: "I felt guilty Ellen was having the operation, and thinking they were still waiting.

It was amazing when we discovered Patrick was having the operation too. It was fantastic news and amazing it was on the same day." Patrick's dad Kevin said: "We couldn't believe it when we heard Ellen was in the next room and they had found a heart for her too."

It was fantastic news... and amazing it was on the same day

ELLEN'S MUM STEFANIE WALSH

CAPTION(S):

RECOVERING Heart swap tot Ellen Walsh in hospital bed; PATIENT Patrick Skinner yesterday after life-saving op
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 14, 2009
Words:271
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