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Heartbroken Whangārei couple Devon Philpott and Tayla Scott are left wondering how their happy child Lily died in her sleep.
"It’s absolutely devastating ... that’s my baby girl. She had just started clapping and walking," Philpott told the Herald.
"Her 3-year-old-brother Jason misses her. They were best friends. We are torn up into a million pieces."
A pathologist has said the cause of death was undetermined and will do further tests before a Coroner can make a ruling.
Philpott said his daughter was born in May last year with a cleft lip and palate and had been fighting a battle from the outset undergoing multiple operations for lip and palate repair before she turned 1.
The doting dad said the last time he saw his girl alive was when he put her to bed at the start of this month.
"She was not crying. There was no reason for us to wonder if anything was wrong."
The following day when he went to pick her up she was no longer breathing.
"I’ll never forget the pain in Devon’s voice coming from Lily’s room which made my heart sink as I’ve never heard anything like it in my life," Scott said.
"I just knew something was wrong at that moment but didn’t know it would be this. He had gone in to give her the bottle but instead discovered our worst nightmare - our precious angel had grown her wings peacefully in her sleep."
"I was in disbelief because I’d only ever heard about this tragic nightmare online and never thought it would happen to us.
"She was as healthy and happy as you could be and just all around loving life."
Police arrived an hour later and Philpott said their daughter underwent a post mortem but a pathologist found the cause of death was undetermined and will do further tests before a Coroner can give their opinion on Lily’s passing.
"Nobody can explain what’s happened. That’s the hardest part," he said.
Scott said this had shattered their worlds to the "absolute core".
She said she was unable to clean the windows where the imprints of her daughter’s hands still remained.
The pair created a Givealittle to help cover the costs of their baby’s funeral.
They have raised $10,825 in two weeks since her November 1 death.
Philpott said his whānau were beyond grateful to the community who supported them at a difficult time.
"My entire family is grateful to all donors and the community who supported us at a time like this."