The parents of a baby girl whose body was stripped of organs in the Alder Hey scandal were told yesterday she might have lived into her 20s.

Kayleigh Valentine was less than five months old when she died after complex open-heart surgery at the Liverpool hospital in 1990. An inquest originally ruled that she died from natural causes but the Liverpool Coroner, Andre Rebello, reopened the case after allegations of stockpiles of organs at Alder Hey.

The inquest yesterday heard evidence from Dr Kevin Walsh, the consultant paediatric cardiologist responsible for Kayleigh. He told how the healthy-looking baby was suffering from a severe heart defect that would have probably killed her in infancy.

However, he added: "She could have been lucky and developed cardiovascular disease, which would have enabled her to carry on ... to her late teens or early 20s."

Under cross-examination by the Valentines' barrister, Scott Donovan, Dr Walsh said he explained that to the family before they agreed to the operation.

But Janet and Kevin Valentine, from Wrexham, insisted that they had been told the operation was the only option. Speaking outside court, Mrs Valentine said: "Twenty years would have been like a lifetime to us." The inquest was adjourned until 12 July.

Dr Walsh, who now lives in Dublin, also gave evidence on the death of 11-month-old Nicholas Hatton. That inquest was adjourned until 25 July.