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OP JOY FOR DI'S SECRET FRIEND, 15; Transplant saves Victoria.

ONE of Princess Diana's very special secret friends is today recovering from a life-saving operation.

Victoria Hemphill, 15, from Limavady, Co Londonderry, has been saved by a transplant organ, her father has revealed.

Diana regularly slipped quietly into Harefield Hospital in Middlesex to visit Victoria, spending several hours a week laughing and chatting with the teenager who had just undergone a heart transplant.

Now, with her life still threatened by the onset of kidney failure, Victoria has just had a kidney transplant. The organ came from a Northern Ireland donor.

Victoria's father, Church of Ireland Minister the Rev John Hemphill, said: "It is an amazing coincidence that it should come from close to home.

"But we can't express our gratitude enough to the donor and his or her family.

"It came just in time to give our daughter a chance of living.

"Their generosity has given Victoria her life back.

"We had been waiting for a kidney match since December 1996 and the moment they told us that one had been found on Friday afternoon, we were all in tears."

The family has no doubt that Diana's visits helped keep their seriously ill child alive.

Victoria's mother Heather said: "Their friendship gave Victoria the strength and confidence that helped her body fight harder.

"She misses Diana so much. She was such a good friend to her."

POLITICIANS in Omagh have slammed the GAA for banning a charity soccer game at a Tyrone ground.

The town's councillors say the unbending sports body - which bans "foreign" games from its grounds - is denying thousands of pounds for the victim's of the blast.
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Author:Oliver, Ted
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 1998
Words:269
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