God's angel: Parents Kelly Ryan and Alex Alexiou with Fr Romanos at the service for their daughter Artemissia.
God's angel: Parents Kelly Ryan and Alex Alexiou with Fr Romanos at the service for their daughter Artemissia. Blainey Woodham

Tweed parents lay girl, 3, to rest

ONLY two days before the world celebrated the birth of the baby Christ, Alex Alexiou and Kelly Ryan laid their baby to rest.

Artemissia entered the world in a blaze of hope and joy on September 12, 2007, but slipped from it on Monday, December 13, after little more than three years of life.

Mr Alexiou said his daughter died from complications stemming from her two-year battle with a rare illness called Sandhoff’s disease.

Standing before the small white casket that contained Artemissia’s body at yesterday’s funeral service at Murwillumbah’s All Saints Anglican Church, Greek Orthodox priest Father Romanos told mourners the efforts of Artemissia and of Mr Alexiou and Ms Ryan’s to defy the doctors’ predictions had inspired all who knew them.

Speaking after the service, Mr Alexiou said Artemissia had inspired him with her fierce will to live. By the time she passed away she had beaten Sandhoff’s disease and was busy recovering her hearing, her sight and was even on the edge of learning to speak.

But she could not beat the damage done to her lungs.

“She was an inspiration and she was here for a reason,” he said.

Ms Ryan said Artemissia had “transformed many lives” and would continue to do so.

“She represents every element of love you can imagine and more,” she said.

Fr Romanos told mourners Artemissia had taken her place as one of the stars in the heavens and as one of God’s angels.

“She will remain with us for the rest of our lives,” he said.

“Her life didn’t go to waste because, even though she might have had only three weeks or three months, she was still here three years later and that was a miraculous feat.

“Alex and Kelly, you did a phenomenal job to raise her and bring her to this stage.

“It was a difficult and rewarding job and all of us around you felt that hope you brought to this girl and to us.”

Mr Alexiou and Ms Ryan, backed by Ms Ryan’s mother, turned the front room of their Burringbar home into an effective hospital ward for Artemissia where they could give her 24-hour care.

They struggled to get respite support from the Federal Government, but got strong support from their community, including fundraisers conducted by the Burringbar Sports Club last year, a makeover of their home done by the Murwillumbah Lions Club a few weeks ago and donations and messages of support from across the Northern Rivers.



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