She was her father's tragic hero, a brave little girl who spent nearly half her short life in hospital.
Sophie Salmond had five open-heart operations in her 23-month life, but endured them all with her trademark cheeky grin.
She would scoot around the wards in a plastic car, a medical pole holding her feeding pump, monitor, IV nutrition, and other medication in tow.
"The doctors were always saying she's the happiest child on the ward," father Rob Salmond writes of her in a heartfelt blog. "She didn't know what she was going through was unusual.
"She was loving and she was loved. Her everyday life was together brutal and inspiring. She was, and is, a tragic hero."
Sophie died in the United States last year, days before her second birthday.
Dr Salmond, who is about to return to Wellington, wrote about her in what he originally intended to be a series of private recollections for Sophie to read when she was older.
He has now published those thoughts on the blog nearlytwolaps.com, hoping it will help others like him and wife Jana von Stein.
"Parents starting on a similar journey, hopefully with a different outcome, might learn something," he said this week.
From birth, Sophie battled a complex set of heart defects, known as heterotaxy.
"Both sides of Sophie's torso believed they were the right-hand side, meaning some right-sided structures in her body developed twice, while other left-sided structures were malformed or not formed at all," he said.
"That doesn't really matter for kidneys, and isn't too threatening for lungs. But she had no spleen, her intestines were twisted into her abdomen in a dangerous way, and the syndrome wreaked havoc with her heart."
Sophie spent 11 of her 23 months in hospital. She died in February last year in Ann Arbor, where her parents were assistant professors of political science at the University of Michigan.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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