AN 18-day-old baby girl who was the youngest and smallest child in the world to be connected to an artificial heart pump has died in a North-East hospital.

Doctors at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle were hoping that connecting Tiarna Middleton's heart to to a Berlin Heart device would buy her enough time to allow her to have a heart transplant.

But today her family revealed that the little girl had "passed away" after suffering a medical complication and becoming extremely ill.

Tiarna, whose parents, Sharney and Gary, are from Rowlands Gill in Gateshead, was born with a very serious heart condition known as hypioplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS).

Because of this condition, which means she had a blocked valve in the major artery connecting her lungs to her heart, she was initially connected to an ECMO machine, which artificially oxygenates the blood.

But after complications set in the Freeman Hospital team decided to take the gamble of making her the world's youngest Berlin Heart-assisted patient.

Sadly, hopes that the machine would keep Tiarna alive until a donor could be found have now been dashed.