These parents came up with an extraordinary way to pay tribute to their 4-year-old daughter.
Everly “Evie” Backe was three years old when she had her first open-heart surgery in August 2017. She was born with a “critical, complex congenital heart defect.
Everly’s mother, Lauren Backe, tells PEOPLE, “She had undergone two more surgeries when she was one year old at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ilinois.
The largest scar on her body is on her chest. Lauren says that the family calls her “zipper.”
Everly has found a “zipper buddy,” i.e., her father, Matt Backe. Matt recently got a tattoo on his chest of his daughter’s scar.
Matt Backe told ‘Good Morning America,’ “It makes me happy that they look the same.”
Lauren tells ‘PEOPLE’ that their daughter reacted to the tattoo by saying, “My daddy got a tattoo like my zipper so that I don’t feel alone, and he wants to be special like me.”
Lauren has her particular tattoo: an ECG line with a heart in the middle on her forearm. The ink has the first initial for Evie on one side and his son Jack on the other.
Lauren tells PEOPLE that she learned about Evie’s heart complications when she was about 33 weeks pregnant. Evie spent the first month of her life in a specialized pediatric cardiology unit.
She was surprised when her husband told her that he was interested in getting a tattoo in honor of their daughter.
Evie was a big fan, but that didn’t stop her teasing her father for “copying her.”
Lauren tells PEOPLE, “While she was thrilled that she had someone like her, she started to tease him a bit in true Evie fashion. She is very much into a copying phase of copying things her brother, and we say, so she had told her dad that he was copying her.”