Glenavy girl a finalist for Spirit of NI Award

Sophie Stewart
Sophie Stewart

Local girl Sophie Stewart is one of five finalists in the U105 Young Person’s category for the 2014 Sunday Life Spirit of NI Awards with Specsavers.

Sophie, (6) from Glenavy who suffers from a rare congenital heart defect hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped, had to undergo a number of heart operations.

Her heart problem was detected before Sophie was born in 2007.

While her mother Natalie was expecting, an abnormality in Sophie’s heart was detected during a routine 20 week scan at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

When Sophie was born she was taken into intensive care by a team of doctors.

The family was told they had two options. One was to leave the baby in the ICU unit where she could quietly pass away.

The other, which the family opted for, was to transfer Sophie to Birmingham where she would undergo major heart surgery.

She was taken by air ambulance and underwent open heart surgery.

Her parents were prepared for the worst as there was only a 60 per cent survival rate.

Miraculously Sophie has come through all five major heart operations in six years and medication for life.

Tony McGinn, Specsavers Northern Ireland Chairman said: “We received hundreds of nominations and it was particularly hard this year to shortlist just 15.

“Year on year we are humbled and inspired by all of their stories and look forward to meeting them all at the gala final on May 30.”

The event is televised on UTV at the Culloden Hotel.