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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Heart girl gets transplant
Abbey Cape
Abbey Cape is in a "stable but critical" condition
A nine-year-old girl who desperately needed a new heart has undergone a transplant operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Abbey Cape, from Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire, had been on a life-support machine since 13 April.

Her mother, Marianne Cape, 28, and stepfather, Darren Jackson, 32, made a nationwide plea for a donor to come forward.

A donor was finally found and Abbey had the transplant "within the last few days", according to the hospital.

'Critical time'

A spokesperson confirmed on Monday that she was in a "stable but critical" condition in the transplant suite in the intensive care unit of the London hospital.

In a statement, Ms Cape and Mr Jackson said: "Doctors warned us that the first 48 hours post surgery would be a really critical time for Abbey.

Abbey Cape (left)
Abbey (left) had just weeks to live

"We are delighted that a heart has been found for her but realise that it is still very early days."

They said they were grateful for the continuing support they had received but asked for privacy during a "difficult time" for them.

Abbey's parents first became worried about her five weeks ago when the youngster suddenly became weak and unable to hold down food.

After tests at Queen's Hospital in Burton upon Trent, she was sent to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Support messages

There she was diagnosed as suffering from severe cardiomyopathy - an infection of the heart muscles which causes them to swell and prevent blood from flowing normally.

She was then transferred to Great Ormond Street where doctors said her only chance of survival was a transplant operation.

Last week, children at Abbey's school, Snarestone Primary, sent tapes of support to her.

Fund-raising events have also been organised by people living in the town.

The BBC's Ben McCarthy
"Her case is described as super urgent"

Click here to go to Leicester
See also:

20 Apr 02 | England
Tapes of hope for heart girl
09 Jan 02 | Health
Special bond of heart-op friends
20 Apr 01 | Health
UK looks to Spain on donors
12 Mar 01 | Health
Last minute donor found for baby
04 Feb 01 | Health
Organ transplant summit called
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