Congenital Heart Disease claims nine-year-old who 'touched everyone's heart'

She passed away on Friday
She passed away on Friday

The family of a Magherafelt girl who tragically died last Friday have said they want people to remember the nine-year-old for her ability to make people "smile at times like this".

Little Sofia Mackle-Leitao had suffered with congenital heart disease from the day she was born, but the cause of her sudden and unexpected death is still unclear.

Little Sofia had a congenital heart condition

Little Sofia had a congenital heart condition

Speaking to the Mail, her aunt Sinead Mackle, said: "Sofia suffered from CHD (congenital heart disease) her whole life but was the happiest child there was and she touched everyone's heart, who's ever met her, in some way."

Thanking everyone for their messages of support, she said Sofia's mum Gemma would like her to remembered in that way.

"She always saw the best in everything and made you smile at times like this," Sinead added.

Sofia, who had spent time in the Clarke Clinic at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital had been in and out of hospital with her condition, and it is understood that she had a pacemaker fitted.

Sofia on her First Communion day

Sofia on her First Communion day

The mum of a another child who had been admitted at the same time as Sofia said she was "struggling after hearing about beautiful Sofia... a beautiful girl who left such an impact on our lives".

The little-one, who was a pupil at Holy Family Primary School in Magherafelt was laid to rest at Church of the Sacred Heart in Rock on Tuesday, following Requiem Mass at Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Magherafelt.

She leaves behind her dad Ricardo, mum Gemma and brothers Tiernan, Odhran and baby Miguel, nanny Caroline and Avo Maria, granda Gerard.

Many tributes have been paid to little Sofia on social media.

"She will be forever in our hearts ❤," said one.

"Just beautiful. Can't put into words what you must be feeling right now, sending love to all of you at this sad time xx," another added.

Others shared their condolences with the Mackle and Leitao families.

"So sorry to hear the bad news Gemma ," they said. "She will be never forgotten ❤."

"Gone but never ever forgotten... what a beautiful little soul."