THE family of heart transplant girl Sally Slater yesterday sent a message of hope to a youngster recovering from the same life-saving operation.

Emma Standish critical but stable last night in the intensive care unit of Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, after her parents' prayers for a new heart for the ten-year-old were answered at the last minute.

Doctors had given Emma just days to live after her heart condition deteriorated rapidly last week, but a suitable donor was found just before her parents launched a nationwide appeal for a donor.

The case is similar to that of seven-year-old Sally, who was pictured clinging to life in the same hospital in April this year.

The youngster, from Kirkby Malham, in North Yorkshire, was saved at the 11th hour after her family made several desperate pleas for a donor.

Yesterday, Sally's grandmother, Barbara Slater, spoke of her sympathy for Emma's parents, Darren Standish and Deborah Cartwright.

"We know exactly what they're going through, and it's a terrible thing. It sounds very similar to what happened with Sally," she said.

"We feel very much for them and we're following it very closely.

"We're just hoping they get the same good fortune that we did with Sally, because the recovery she has made has been miraculous, really.

"I have written to her parents to try and give them a bit of hope, and to say that they have just got to take it a day at a time."

Emma, from Farnworth, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, has been in hospital since June, when she was struck down by a virus.

Her condition took a turn for the worse on Monday last week, when doctors warned that she could have just days to live if a donor was not found.

A suitable organ was found on Friday, when she was transferred 150 miles from Manchester's Pendlebury Children's Hospital to Newcastle.

Mrs Slater said the whole family was hoping that Emma would make a full recovery.

"First you start thinking, 'why us?', but then, as time goes on, you get to be grateful for so many little things," she said.