Family of schoolgirl donate organs after sudden death
THE sudden death of a kind schoolgirl with a "beautiful, warm smile" has given the gift of life to others after her grieving family donated her organs.
Caoimhe McCullough, from north Belfast, died in hospital on Friday morning following a heart condition.
As recently as May, she had been "participating fully" in a residential trip with schoolmates at the Share Centre in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.
However, it is understood her heart had stopped "a number of times" in recent months and she had received hospital treatment.
Her devastated parents Margaret and Billy McCullough and older siblings Niall, Tiarnan and Niamh were being comforted on Friday by family and friends.
Her brothers and sister changed their Facebook pages to pictures of their little sister, with Niamh writing a poignant tribute.
"RIP to my beautiful sister Caoimhe, not only my sister but my best friend. My heart is broken and I cannot imagine what my life is going to be like without you. Love you lots, Fly high xx."
Caoimhe, from Windermere Gardens in the Cavehill area, was a year eight pupil at Little Flower Girls School, where principal Jim McKeever said pupils and teachers were "shocked and devastated" by her death.
"We have a very strong school, we have had had support team in and our own support systems put in place to help friends and the rest of the school community," he said.
"All out prayers are with Caoimhe's family."
Friends from Little Flower and nearby Dominican College, Fortwilliam, who been at her side during seven years at St Therese of Lisieux PS, gathered back at their old school on Friday to be with their former teachers as they tried to come to terms with their loss.
Headmistress Patricia Reid described Caoimhe as a "much-loved pupil".
"To the staff she was a quiet, helpful, friendly and unassuming young lady who was always keen to please and give her best with a beautiful, warm smile on her face," she said.
"To her friends she was a lively, kind, trustworthy and good friend to be with. Her sad passing has left the school community shocked and saddened.
"Our hears go out to her mum and dad, brothers Niall and Tiarnan and sister Niamh, who were all past pupils of the school. St Therese, pray for her."
Caoimhe's funeral will take place at Holy Family Church, Newington on Monday.
The family have asked for donations in lieu of flowers to go to Children's Heartbeat Trust.