Family's heartbreak as wee Oscar loses brave fight for life
The devastated family of Oscar Knox – the boy whose heroic battle against cancer touched the hearts of people around the world – have paid a moving tribute to their "little superhero".
Oscar lost his fight for life on Thursday after a two-and-a-half-year battle with neuroblastoma. He was just five years old.
His parents announced his death to more than 54,000 followers on the Wee Oscar Twitter account yesterday morning.
As tributes flooded in from thousands of supporters, the family issued an emotional statement describing their "heartbreaking sadness" at the news.
"Oscar has brought unimaginable joy to our family with his smile and his infectious personality," they said.
"Our little superhero achieved so much in his short life and inspired so many people throughout the world to do so many amazing things, something we are incredibly proud of."
The family thanked the thousands of people who rallied behind Oscar after he was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, in November 2011.
They also thanked the teams at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and Northern Ireland Children's Hospice, who cared for Oscar in the final stages of his life.
"Nothing can ever take the pain away but knowing we were supported so much and that Oscar was loved so much brings great comfort," they added.
The First Minister and Deputy First Minister – who met little Oscar when he visited their offices last July – led the many tributes.
Extending his sympathies to Oscar's parents Leona and Stephen and sister Isobella, Peter Robinson said it was a profoundly sad time.
"When I met Oscar I was struck by his infinite energy and sense of fun. He had a tremendous capacity to overcome the challenges he and his family faced together," he said. "Oscar was an amazing little boy who lived his life to the full and filled those around him with admiration and hope. He will be deeply missed by everyone who met and loved him."
Martin McGuinness said Oscar had inspired countless people through his positive attitude and resilience.
"The day Oscar and his family visited Stormont was one of my most uplifting days in politics and you couldn't help but be enthused by his vibrancy and spirit," he said.
"Oscar was a little warrior who faced down sickness and setbacks and showed all of us how precious life is."
A Celtic supporter, Oscar was the team mascot when they played Cliftonville in Glasgow last summer in a Champions League qualifier.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon paid tribute yesterday.
"This is a young boy who had an influence on a lot of people's lives," he said.
"I think the supporters and the people who knew the family will be absolutely devastated by the news.
"He fought so hard to keep going, and this will have touched a lot of people today."
Oscar Knox was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, which affects one in every 100,000 children, in November 2011.
Oscar received more than 30 blood transfusions and almost 140 platelet transfusions in the past 26 months. An appeal by Oscar's family raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last three years, with the campaign gaining many high-profile supporters, including boxers Paddy Barnes and Carl Frampton.