A 5-year-old girl born with a hole in her heart — which has led to two open-heart surgeries — “married” her best friend in a touching ceremony she requested before her third procedure.
Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone was born in Meriden, Conn., with a slew of complications — her umbilical cord had fused into the placenta, and she did not form an anus until she was outside the womb, an event “doctors had never seen,” according to her mom, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone.
At the newborn intensive care unit, doctors discovered that Sophia had both a hole in her heart and a genetic heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, a complicated condition that involves four distinct heart problems.
“Sophia is on the more severe side of the scale, and, although a good candidate for a complete repair, it will take several surgeries throughout her life,” explains Somerset-Chiappalone, a single mother of three, on a Facebook page, Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone the beautiful baby with a broken heart. Three or four of these open heart surgeries are likely to take place in her first year of life. “I asked if this would end up shortening her lifespan and the answer was yes. This is something no parent wants to hear.”
After spending two weeks in the hospital and undergoing a lifesaving procedure that involved inserting a catheter into Sophia’s heart, doctors sent the girl home. However, a few weeks later, at a routine pediatrician check-up, Sophia turned blue and began losing oxygen. In surgery, doctors connected her surrounding arteries with a conduit, and a year later, she underwent a follow-up surgery.
Sophia is due for more surgery in January, and in case it’s not a success, she decided to marry her best friend, Hunter, whom she met in preschool when she was 3 years old. So on Oct. 23, with Sophia wearing a pint-sized gown and veil from Bliss Bridal, the besties exchanged “vows” at a local playground.
On Oct. 25, Somerset-Chiappalone, who did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, created a Go Fund Me page to raise money for “Supergirl’s” jaw-dropping medical expenses. So far, she’s raised more than $5,000 of her $10,000 goal.
“I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the love and support we’ve gotten with Sophia and her recent wish,” Somerset-Chiappalone wrote on Facebook. “It was pure innocence in the purest form. My heart aches with joy with the people standing behind Supergirl on this fight. She’s fought to be alive since her first breath, but that’s all she knows.”
The mom added: “I love the idea of sharing the beautiful story that is her and Hunter. Most people wait a lifetime for someone who wouldn’t stand by them through such illness. She met a best friend and love of her life at 3 who does. You know they say marry your best friend. It just doesn’t usually happen before 1st grade…”
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