Aimee (11) passes away waiting for transplant
Tributes for Co Londonderry girl who hoped for new heart
Tributes have been paid to a Co Londonderry schoolgirl who has died in hospital following a nine-month wait for an urgent heart transplant.
Aimee Brady (11), from Magherafelt, was placed on the heart transplant list in January of this year.
She needed 24/7 monitoring and medication by specialist doctors and nurses until she found a suitable donor and, because of this, Aimee and her family had to stay in hospital over recent months.
The Clark Clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital had been her family's home until she had her transplant operation at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.
Aimee, her parents Steven and Valerie, older brother Taylor and the rest of the family had been living from day to day, waiting on the call that a heart had become available.
Sadly, it wasn't to be and Aimee passed away peacefully on Wednesday surrounded by her loving family.
Aimee, a pupil at Spires Integrated Primary School in her home town, had undergone open-heart surgery three times after being born with the defect double inlet left ventricle with pulmonary atresia.
It was detected during her mum's 20-week scan and she had the first operation at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children just six days after being born in September, 2008.
At 18 months she had a second operation, before travelling to Birmingham Children's Hospital for a third surgery at the age of five.
In 2015, Aimee was featured in a billboard campaign to raise awareness of congenital heart disease and the work of the Children's Heartbeat Trust.
In June, she officially opened a new specialised unit aimed at helping children with heart defects, cutting the ribbon with Ireland rugby captain Rory Best at the Royal's Children's Hospital.
The Children's Heartbeat Trust said yesterday Aimee will be remembered as "one of the bravest, funniest and sassiest girls we had the honour of knowing".
A charity spokesperson added: "She spent the last 10 months of her life in Clark Clinic and latterly PICU (the children's Intensive Care Unit) waiting on a heart transplant, but tragically never got the call she and her family so desperately needed.
"Always ready with a cheeky smile and joke, Aimee was a light in the lives of all who knew her and her impact has been felt further afield, with well-wishers contacting her and her family from around the world.
"We will all miss her so much and send our deepest condolences to Valerie, Steven, Taylor and their extended family on the loss of such an inspirational daughter, sister and heart hero.
"If you do one thing today in Aimee's memory please sign up to the organ donation register, www.organdonationni.info, and talk to your family about your wishes.
"The gift of organ donation really can make all the difference."
Many people have shared moving tributes to Aimee on social media, praising "a beautiful little girl taken far too soon".
"Beautiful Aimee was the bravest and kindest little girl we know," one family friend wrote on Facebook.
Aimee is survived by her parents, brother, grandparents Karen (Fonsela) and Joey and Jean (Hawthorne), aunts Joanne and Helen and wider family circle.
Her funeral service will take place in St Swithin's Parish Church, Magherafelt, at 3.30pm, followed by burial afterwards in Polepatrick Cemetery.
The family say they plan to carry on the campaign for greater awareness around organ donation in Aimee's memory.