Parents left in dark after 'wee angel', 2, dies suddenly in her bed

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Donny and Steph Mitchell's lives have been turned upside down by the tragic passing of their two-year-old daughter.

A Scottish couple have been left shattered after their two-year-old daughter died suddenly just after the turn of the year.

Bus drivers Donny and Steph Mitchell celebrated the birth of their youngest child Kerris nearly three years ago. Their lives were returning to normality after the festive season when they put the fit and healthy toddler to bed on 4 January, but the pair could never have imagined that she would never wake up.

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But Kerris, described as a 'wee angel' by 31-year-old Donny, sadly passed away in her sleep in what doctors have considered a case of 'SUDC', or Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. Weeks later, the family remain in the dark about her cause of death while their lives have been shaken from top to bottom by the tragedy.

Kerris' parents were left heart-broken by her sudden passingKerris' parents were left heart-broken by her sudden passing
Kerris' parents were left heart-broken by her sudden passing

Steph, 30, told our sister title the Edinburgh Evening News: "We never knew there was such a thing as putting a kid to sleep and them just passing away. We just thought kids who passed away were always ill kids, not fit, healthy children."

Donny added: "We sit ourselves at night and think how we just miss her cheery wee face. She used to sit and wave at you. She had so much personality. You could tell what she was thinking by looking at every single expression on her face. She was just a wee angel taken too soon and in a horrible way."

Steph explained the entire family, including Kerris' older sister and three big brothers, feel lost after her passing. "She was with us all day every day for her whole life and now we've not got that", she said.

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"All our kids are a bit older and they're not as dependent on ourselves. They're busy playing their Xboxes or going to school and not having that little person to be looking after anymore just makes us feel lost.

"I think the hardest part is not knowing what's happened. That's what has hit home the most. It's like 'how can she just pass away?'

"She was healthy, she was fine. It's not normal. None of it makes sense to us right now. We're still trying our best to get answers but we have to get used to the reality that me might just not know.

"It's hit all the other kids really hard when they've not got that sister because Kerris was non-verbal and she's got an autistic big brother. They all used to do everything for her and now she's not there.

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"She would just point and they'd be running or she would cry and they'd come to her. She was the wee boss."

Donny said he and Steph having to stay off work was taking its toll on the household budget. And constant reminders of their little girl around the house have made it impossible to escape the grief.

He continued: "My work's been trying to help as much as they can and they've supported us loads but it's going to be difficult because we lose part of our wage and we're trying to pay for everything... fuel, costs. We've just finished paying off Kerris' Christmas presents and they've not even been opened.

"We're looking at donating them to the Sick Kids when we're ready just to keep her memory alive. With how long children keep toys, hopefully we'll go back in 10 years' time and they'll still be there."

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With a post-mortem ongoing, Donny's sister Tammy Macpherson has set up a fundraiser to create a fitting memorial for Kerris and help the young couple cover daily costs. And with £855 already raised since it was launched at the weekend, Steph said she had been overwhelmed by the response.

Kerris Mitchell died suddenly on January 4Kerris Mitchell died suddenly on January 4
Kerris Mitchell died suddenly on January 4

She added: "At first we didn't think it was going to take off because for us she was just our little girl. She was only two so it's not like she made this big massive impact on the world or the community as such.

"But it kind of took us by surprise that so many family and friends and people in the neighbourhood donated. That's made us feel like it wasn't just us that she was special to.

"Other people thought she was special too and she touched other people's hearts. Seeing that made our day a bit. It reminded us that people do care."

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Tammy said: "It's the most devastating thing that you could ever imagine. It's heart-breaking when you see it on the news and you here it's happening to other folk but you don't really understand the devastation until it happens to your own family.

"We're wanting to raise money to get Kerris a beautiful stone, somewhere my brother, the kids and family members can go and spend time with Kerris and speak to her. Somewhere that marks a memorial for her.

"It's hard enough when a child but the family need somewhere they can go and they can mourn and they can lay flowers. The kids are still pretty young and they need somewhere to go as well."

You can donate to the fundraiser in honour of Kerris here.

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