5-year-old ‘marries’ love of her life ahead of open-heart surgery

A little girl who was born with a life-threatening heart condition saw a big wish come true recently, when she was able to “marry” her best friend in a special playground ceremony. Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone, of Connecticut, has already undergone two open-heart surgeries and several other procedures, and had made the special request ahead of a third surgery, which is scheduled for January at Boston Children’s Medical Center, Yahoo reported.

On Oct. 23, Sophia and her best friend, Hunter, who she met in preschool, joined together on a playground and exchanged “vows” while photographer Marisa Balletti-Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photo captured the precious images. The idea came from the pint-sized bride herself, and was happily agreed to by Hunter and his mom.

Sophia was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, which is a genetic heart defect involving four different issues, shortly after her birth. Sophia’s mother, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone, started the “Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone the beautiful baby with a broken heart” Facebook page and explained that her daughter’s case is considered severe and will require several open-heart procedures before it is completely repaired. The condition is also likely to shorten her lifespan, and she will need a heart and lung transplant in the future.

Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone and Hunter.    Sassy Mouth Photo  www.sassymouth.net

“She’s a walking miracle,” Somerset-Chiappalone told NBC Connecticut. “There is no life expectancy at this time because there’s no reason for her to be alive.”

Balletti-Lavoie told Yahoo she was asked to do the shoot by Hunter’s mom, Tracy Laferriere, who is a close friend. Shortly after she shared photos of the pair on her Facebook page, their story went viral.

“I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the love and support we’ve gotten with Sophia and her recent wish,” Somerset-Chiappalone posted on her personal Facebook page, on Oct. 25. “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. 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!!! I agree, the world should know this story.”

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