Heaven answer prayers of little children because of their innocence. This was the case with Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone from Connecticut, a 5-year-old girl who has been battling with a life-threatening heart condition since birth. She was glad to see her big wish come true recently when she was joyfully ‘wedded’ to her best friend in a spectacular ceremony which was held on a playground.
Sophia has already been operated upon on two open-heart surgeries, and many other medical measures were also taken. She asked for a union with her best friend, and her special request was granted ahead of a third surgery scheduled at Boston Children’s Medical Center in January.
October 23rd was glorious for Sophia as she tied the nuptial knots with her best friend, Hunter, with whom she became friends with in preschool. The venue was on a playground where ‘vows’ were exchanged while photographer Marisa Balletti-Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photo took pictures of the treasured moments. Sophia, the little bride, had the idea on her mind, expressed it and the proposal was gladly accepted by Hunter and his mother.
Sophia was pronounced a sufferer of tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, a genetic heart disease which involves four various issues. The diagnosis was made not long after her birth.
Sophia’s mother, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone, started an intensive online campaign by creating a Facebook page tagged “Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone the beautiful baby with a broken heart” and explained that her daughter’s case is categorized as very serious. She said it would require different open-heart procedures before it can be fixed. It was also predicted that the condition is likely to reduce her lifespan, and she requires a heart and lung transplant later in future.
“She’s a walking miracle,” Somerset-Chiappalone said. “At the moment, there is no life expectancy because there’s nothing she is living for,” Sophia’s mother.
The photographer, Balletti-Lavoie said she was invited for the shoot as the official photographer by the bride’s mother-in-law, Tracy Laferriere, who is also a close friend.
Not long after she shared the photos of the rare couple on her Facebook page, their story went viral.
“I’m bewildered at the love and support we received from people who showed interest in Sophia’s case and her recent wish,” Somerset-Chiappalone posted on her personal Facebook page on October 25. “My daughter only made the wish out of innocence. My heart beats joyfully when I see the people who are joining Supergirl to fight for her life. Her determination to stay alive since birth has been a struggle. Her beautiful story with Hunter is worth sharing. As the saying goes, marry your best friend. Sophia met her best friend who also doubles as the love of her life at age 3. Most people have to hold on for a longer period before they find someone who would stand by them through trying times. I have to agree that this story should be in the open for the world to see.”
Hunter’s mother, Laferriere opened a GoFundMe page to assist Sophia’s single mother who also has two other children to cater for. Also, the gesture will also help settle medical bills and transportation costs.
Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with pulmonary atresia is an acute type of heart defect that is a congenital condition.
Infants born with TOF coupled with pulmonary atresia possess five heart anomalies:
- Ventricular septal defect (VSD): A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is the most prevalent type of congenital (present from birth) heart condition. It is a hole located on the wall that sets apart the lower right and left heart chambers (ventricles).
- Overriding aorta: This connotes that the aorta has shifted close to the right side of the heart, above the VSD.
- Thickened right ventricle: The right ventricle becomes broader than the regular form of pumping blood against resistance.
- Complete pulmonary obstruction: In TOF, the pulmonary valve is compressed, but in children with TOF with pulmonary atresia, the pulmonary valve to connect the right ventricle to the lungs is completely absent. This means that blood will have to pass through alternative smaller arteries as passageways for it to reach the lungs,
- Abnormal pulmonary arteries: These arteries are likely to enlarge unusually to aid the spread of blood to the lungs. However, this situation depends on each child. These unusual pulmonary arteries are known as major aortopulmonary collateral arteries (MAPCAs).
TOF with pulmonary atresia is often discovered shortly after birth. The most regular sign is cyanosis, a bluish tint to the skin, lips and nail beds.