Echo readers have expressed their sadness after a young Sunderland girl lost her courageous battle against a series of health problems.
Messages of condolence have poured in following the death of four-year-old Lillia Merrington.
The youngster, who lived with parents Simone Clark and Josh Merrington and little sister Talia, two, in Falkland Road, faced a number of complications throughout her short life and passed away on Thursday, May 12 at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
After contracting meningitis, the youngster was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, severe brain damage, problems with her thyroid and epilepsy among other conditions. She also needed a wheelchair to get around.
She became very poorly in her final weeks and lost her life after battling a series of infections.
Her parents, both 23, are remaining strong and say they feel blessed to have had her in their lives for four years.
Readers shared messages for the family on the Echo’s Facebook page, with some even sharing tales of experiences with their own poorly children.
Danielle Collier said: “I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. My daughter was in the next room to Lillia in hospital and we had many chats with her parents as my daughter suffers from cerebral palsy and some of Lillia’s problems too so we had things in common.
“They were lovely caring people and every time they brought Lillia to see Courtney she had a beaming smile and was very vocal. Absolutely heartbreaking to read that this little princess has gained her angel wings. My thoughts are with you all.”
Debbie Garside had also met Lillia at hospital.
She said: “RIP beautiful girl. My son was in hospital same time and I passed your room praying you would get better. God has gained another angel. Thoughts are with your family at this terrible time.”
Nanna Sandra Teal posted: “So sad. RIP beautiful girl, fly high with the angels. Thinking of your mammy and daddy at this very sad and upsetting time.”
Cherie Hunter added: “RIP little angel. You’re free from your struggles now. Thoughts are with the family.”
Sheila Dignen said: “RIP little angel. Free from pain.”
And Linda C Short added: “God bless you little darling. May you bloom in God’s garden for eternity.”
Kimberley Zara Wilson said: “So sad when a little one gains their angel wings.”
Susan Suey said: “Gorgeous happy smiley little girl. RIP Lillia. It was a pleasure to have met you.”
Lillia, who was a pupil at Sunningdale School, had been battling a series of infections since January, including influenza and swine flu and had been given a number of invasive procedures by doctors who fought to save her life.
But when doctors felt it was time to stop their interventions and let Lillia pass on, her parents agreed and she passed away shortly afterwards.
Simone said: “She loved every minute of her life and she always kept our spirits up by laughing and smiling.
“We wouldn’t have done anything different. All we would have wanted to change would be to give her better health, but we’ve loved every second of her life and we just feel blessed for the time that we had with her.
“Now she’s at peace and as her sister says, she’s playing with the angels in heaven.”