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Heart angel mum Samantha Franklin is sharing the story of Sophie, her heart angel:

“We’ve been grieving for our girl Sophie since her diagnosis of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) in May 2020. HLHS is a rare and life-threatening congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart doesn’t fully develop. It’s not genetic or avoidable. It’s just random, bad luck.

Our pregnancy wasn’t fun. It was marked by multiple health scares for the baby which eventually turned into a terminal diagnosis at 34 weeks gestation. Although HLHS is survivable with modern surgery, our Sophie’s heart was too severely underdeveloped. So severe that we effectively had to plan our baby’s funeral before she was even born.

I wish we were a case where the doctors had made a diagnosis only for our baby to defy the odds and pull through. We weren’t that lucky. We had two painfully short but incredibly beautiful hours with our Soph, surrounded by close friends and family who got to meet our beautiful little girl. We are eternally grateful to everyone has been considerate of us for the past year and a half. We’ve been lucky to be supported by so many, including the Heart Kids NZ, particularly Larissa & Alanah of Waikato Heart Kids who reached out often to check up on us.

The medical specialists in NZ and support team around the Heart Kids NZ community are fantastic. We didn’t get to know them very well due to our circumstances, but I have met many other wonderful families who have shared their experience of the care they received from our doctors, nurses, midwives & volunteers. I will always sympathise with the specialists who had to tell Dene and I that our baby wasn’t well, then eventually, wouldn’t survive. People are good, and I want to honour these people for what they do for families like ours every day.

Because we live in such a selfless country, we didn’t pay a cent for the care we received the entire pregnancy. Heart Kids NZ provided additional care because of Sophie’s condition. They played a very important role in our journey. Please donate to the Heart Kids Appeal. Every dollar goes to making sure families don’t have the extra burden of financial stress, while children like Sophie get the care they need to survive.

Dene and I are fortunate to have gone on and had our rainbow baby Greer in February 2022. It was healing for us to have a child following a loss, although nothing will fill the hole that Sophie left in our family.”

Samantha has written a picture book inspired by the passing of her daughter. “Sophie’s Heart” is a story of grief, love, and loss, and of discovering that healing comes in many ways.

Read more about “Sophie’s Heart” here.