Girl, 4, died just hours before her first day at school as family pay tribute to ‘spectacular firecracker’

A heartbroken family has paid tribute to their “spectacular cracker” over a girl who died just a day before school started.

Four-year-old Rose O’Leary-Hall struggled with heart disease and had to undergo multiple surgeries.

Four-year-old Rose O'Leary-Hall died on September 4 - just a day before she started school - after heart surgery


Four-year-old Rose O’Leary-Hall died on September 4 – just a day before she started school – after heart surgeryPhoto credit: MEN Media
Her family described her as a “spectacular firecracker” and "just unbelievable"


Her family described her as a “spectacular firecracker” and “simply incredible”Photo credit: MEN Media
Rose's family was told she had an interrupted aortic arch before she was born, and the little boy had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair it


Rose’s family was told she had an interrupted aortic arch before she was born, and the little boy had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair itPhoto credit: MEN Media

But the little girl did not survive the final test and tragically died on September 4th, just one day before starting school.

Katie O’Leary-Hall and her wife Sue O’Leary-Hall learned at her 20-week check-up that Rose had an interrupted aortic arch, a condition that affects only one in 50,000 people.

The condition occurs when the aorta – the heart’s main pathway that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body – does not fully form.

Usually it’s in the shape of an arch or curve, but with an interrupted aortic arch, part of the aorta is missing, creating a gap, according to KidsHealth.

Because blood doesn’t flow into the gap until it’s repaired, the lack of blood flow and oxygen can damage the liver, kidneys and intestines, it said.

Katie said little Rose had surgery when she was born to repair the defect, but surgeons were unable to patch the aortic arch because she was “very small”.

She said Rose instead underwent the Norwood procedure, which involved building a new, larger aorta, when she was just three days old and remained in hospital for five weeks afterwards.

“She was doing really well,” Katie remembers.

When she was 10 months old, the little one had another open-heart surgery, but doctors still couldn’t repair her aortic arch.

Katie and Sue – who also have eight-year-old son Will – said they knew Rose needed a third and final operation – biventricular surgery.

But they told how Rose “really started to struggle” and that she even found it difficult to go to her childminder, Amy, around the corner.

Her mothers counted down months to Rose’s third surgery, scheduled for Aug. 15, in hopes it would improve oxygen levels in her blood.

Rose underwent surgery at Leeds General Infirmary and was fitted with a pacemaker on August 24.

Katie said: “Everything just went well after that. She was extubated and started moving around – she didn’t talk much but said ‘Hello mom’.”

But then “everything just went terribly, terribly wrong.”

Apparently Rose had contracted endocarditis – a common infection of the inner lining of the heart – and began bleeding, losing about half of her blood volume.

Katie said: “We got the call saying, ‘Come on, she’s had surgery.’

“They couldn’t understand where the blood came from.”

Rose was stabilized but the family, from Pool-in-Wharfedale, Leeds, received another call two nights later to say Rose had “crashed”.

Katie described it as “the worst day of my life.”

She said: “What she thinks happened is that this infection got into her heart and the tissue started to crumble and the plaster that they had put in the operation crumbled.”

“They had to open their hearts right away because the chest compressions weren’t working.

“People ran to the blood bank and got blood. Her brain didn’t have enough oxygen. They had to turn off the equipment.”

Katie said: “I always called her my little firecracker. She did everything at 100 miles per hour. She was really, really mischievous, but also very loving. She did everything 100 percent – she cared, she loved 100 percent. That was her.” simply incredible, everyone adored her.

Everyone in her village knew Rose, Katie said. She added: “She wasn’t shy and always chatted in a small group.”

Sue told YorkshireLive that Rose’s favorite song was “This Time For Africa” ​​by Shakira and that she danced on the way to her surgery and that her mothers, the nurses and the anesthetist danced with her.

Sue said she wanted to be a doctor and took out her small medical bag to take care of her dolls before surgery.

She said: “She was so full of mischief, love, kindness and fun. She was all on stilts.”

“I can’t believe we’re organizing how to say goodbye. Rose was an absolute firecracker and so spectacular. She left a mark on everyone she met and people felt connected to her.”

Katie and Sue shared heartwarming videos showing Rose playing with her toy dog ​​and walking by the sea.

And her childminder Amy has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover little Rose’s funeral costs.

The fundraiser has already reached over £5,000 – Kate and Sue say they are overwhelmed and humbled by this.

Of the donations, Sue said: “We are just speechless by everything.”

“We went through the most horrific trauma imaginable, and I feel like we were just in a dreamlike state, fighting and fighting to save her and not being able to.”

“Since we lost her, we have been living minute by minute. We wouldn’t have asked anyone for money, but we are just overwhelmed by the kindness and deeply humbled by it and the impact it has made on everyone’s lives.”

Katie added: “We just want to say thank you, we really weren’t expecting this. We would love to have her back in a heartbeat, but it will make things easier for us.”

The couple would also like to draw attention to the fact that the disability maintenance allowance to which they were entitled ends on the day the person entitled to it dies.

Katie said her disability support payments “stopped the day she died.”

“There is no room for sadness.”

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Families often use the money to buy cars to transport people who need it, and it also helps cover other expenses.

Katie said: “We are in a good location but some families are using their cars just because of that or just have a spare room because of that. People can be instantly homeless or careless. This is such a kick in the teeth.”

"She was really, really mischievous, but also very loving," said mom Katie


“She was really, really mischievous, but also really loving,” said mother KatiePhoto credit: MEN Media
rose "left a mark on everyone she met and people felt connected to her," said Mama Sue


Rose “left a mark on everyone she met and people felt a connection to her,” said mother SuePhoto credit: MEN Media

Aila Slisco

Aila Slisco is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Aila Slisco joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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