Five-year-old 'marries' best friend before undergoing heart surgery

Elise Solé

A five-year-old girl born with a hole in her heart — which has led to two open-heart surgeries — has 'married' her best friend in a touching ceremony she requested before her third procedure.

Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone was born with a slew of complications. At the newborn intensive care unit, doctors discovered she 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 'married' her best friend Hunter. Photo: Sassy Mouth Photo

On top of that 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 mum, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone.

“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,” the single mum of three explains on a Facebook page for Sophia.

“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.

She met Hunter in preschool when she was three. Photo: Sassy Mouth Photo

However, a few weeks later, at a routine paediatrician 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.
And on October 23, with Sophia wearing a pint-sized gown and veil from Bliss Bridal, the besties exchanged 'vows' at a local playground.

“Hunter’s mum is my best friend and asked me to do the shoot, because Sophia had a wish to marry Hunter,” Marisa Balletti-Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photo, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It was my pleasure.”

Sophia is facing a third open-heart surgery. Photo: Sassy Mouth Photo

Sophia’s mum created a Go Fund Me page to raise money for her 'Supergirl’s' jaw-dropping medical expenses.

“I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the love and support we’ve gotten with Sophia and her recent wish,” she wrote online.

“It was pure innocence in the purest form. My heart aches with joy with the people standing behind her 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 three who does. You know they say marry your best friend. It just doesn’t usually happen before 1st grade.”

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