A DEVOTED father has today paid tribute to his “sweet little boy” who died from a rare heart condition.
Little Yuto Rice was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyothopy, a critical heart condition, in March last year.
It meant the toddler was at risk of heart failure and his parents – Daz and Maki Rice – were forced to come to terms with the fact every day could be his last.
His father, Daz Rice, of Southworth Way, Rossall, told The Gazette his three-year-old son was “finally at peace” after passing away at home on Friday.
He said: “We knew it could happen at any time and our biggest worry was that one of us wouldn’t be around when it finally did.
“But we were both there, he waited until his brothers had gone to school and slipped into a peaceful sleep, he looked so beautiful.
“Usually when he slept he was a bit uncomfortable, but he was in a really deep sleep, we called his brothers back from school and said our private goodbyes.”
Thousands of pounds have been raised for Yuto, who was too weak to undergo heart surgery, through events including Yuto Fest at the Marine Hall which raised £6,000.
The money enabled Yuto’s family to keep their “little flame” at home during his final months.
Mr Rice added: “He was sweet, strong, sharp and so kind, he made his own path and walked his own path the way he wanted and took us along with him at a fast pace. He loved being at home with his family, wanted to be at home. When he was surrounded by love and music he could forget all the other hospital things.
“We’re so lucky he chose our family, he was so cheerful and upbeat and we want his funeral to be a celebration of his life.”
Shelley Brown, of the Brian House outreach team, where Yuto spent time due to his illness, said: “He will leave a massive hole in the family’s life, he was a much loved child and it was an honour to know him.”
Yuto’s funeral will be held at Cleveleys Park Methodist Church on Thursday at 10am.