Kym Valentine takes a break from Neighbours
Fiona Byrne, Herald Sun, 10 August 2008

Kym Valentine (left) is handing over her role in Neighbours to Michala Banas for a month. Picture: Alex Coppel

NEIGHBOURS star Kym Valentine has been forced to pull out of the show to recover from a collapsed lung and pneumonia.

McLeod's Daughters favourite Michala Banas will step into the role of Libby Kennedy from tomorrow as Valentine takes a one-month break.

Neighbours executive producer Susan Bower made the difficult and unusual decision to bring in Banas during the week.

Valentine, who has played Kennedy for more than 11 years, said handing over the role was extremely hard.

"It is heartbreaking. It is very, very hard to do, but I am trying to be strong about it and do what is best for me," Valentine said.

"I will be back. Don't you worry about that.

"I am so grateful for Michala. I am just so happy to be handing the role to her."

Valentine suffered a collapsed lung during a flight from New York to Australia on July 4.

She had oxygen administered by cabin staff when she passed out. She was taken to hospital in Melbourne and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Banas said taking over the popular character was a huge challenge.

"I am going to be Libby, but I am not Kym Valentine."