The family of 20-month old Lily Daly, Ballyhar, have paid heartfelt tributes to their precious daughter who passed away in the loving arms of her parents Caroline and Michael on Friday, having fought bravely throughout her short life.
"Lily was a fighter. She was a heart warrior," her devastated mom, Caroline, told The Kerryman this week.
Lily was born in June 2019 with a rare heart condition, aggressive Pulmonary Vein Stenosis (PVS) and spent much of her life in Crumlin Children's Hospital.
Despite a poor prognosis, her medical team and her parents "left no stone unturned" in their fight to help Lily and, thankfully, the entire family got 20 wonderful months with her before she lost her courageous battle.
Lily underwent two open-heart surgeries and four key-hole surgeries in her short life. The family flew to New York just last November to try a 'last resort' operation to save Lily.
Unfortunately, the operation did not work - Lily was too young and her condition deteriorated further.
She passed away last Friday at Crumlin Children's Hospital.
"Lily is our hero... There was a lot a lot of medical highs and lows... We were honoured to be on the journey with her," said Caroline.
"She had big blue eyes and she spoke with them. She adored her family, especially her sister Sarah (6). There was a cheeky side to her too. "She touched people all over Ireland and internationally even in the US where the wonderful Irish American community reached out us."
Lily was laid to rest at Kilnanare Cemetery yesterday, Tuesday March 2, following a poignant Funeral Mass at St Gertrude's Church in Firies, where the family gathered to say good-bye to their 'heart warrior'.
Symbols of Lily’s life were brought to the altar including her beloved ‘dodo’, her bunny, and a book called ‘Sisters First’, representing her bond with sister Sarah.
Lily was diagnosed with her condition at just eight-weeks-old, throwing the whole family into turmoil, including her aunts, uncles and grandparents, all of whom adored her. Caroline O’Shea is from Waterville and Michael is from Farranfore. The family live in Ballyhar.
Following her diagnosis, Lily was immediately transferred to the care of Crumlin Children’s Hospital, where the medical team took wonderful care of Lily and her family.
Caroline has nothing but praise for the support, love and kindness they received in Crumlin.
“We were thrown into the unknown, but we were put in the safe hands of Crumlin, who fought for her. They were her heart family, and we felt safe putting our trust in them... You weren’t on the journey on your own.”
Though the pandemic was difficult for Caroline and Michael, it allowed them to spend all their time with Lily and Sarah, creating wonderful memories that will last forever. Michael is an engineer with Kerry County Council and Caroline is an accountant with Primer Finance and is on leave.
“With Mike working from home and Sarah home from school, it turned into a positive thing for us. We got to spend so much time with Lily. She was our priority. We are honoured to have been on the journey with her.”
Sadly, Lily took a turn on Thursday morning and was immediately rushed to Crumlin, where she passed away on Friday. The family have asked for donations, if desired, to be made to The Heart Centre in Crumlin Children’s Hospital instead of flowers. Donations can be made to www.heartchildren.ie