Prime Minister Sunak recognises Dáithí's 'outstanding' contribution to organ donation law change

A six-year-old boy awaiting a heart transplant ribbed Rishi Sunak about Ireland’s rugby win over England as the Prime Minister presented him with a special award to recognise his “outstanding” contribution to his community.

Dáithí Mac Gabhann and Mr Sunak also chatted about football when they met on Wednesday morning on the outskirts of Belfast.

A new organ donation law for Northern Ireland is named in honour of the Belfast boy in recognition of his and his family’s campaign for law changes.

Mr Sunak presented Dáithí with a Points of Light awards to acknowledge the family’s campaigning efforts.

The meeting came ahead of Mr Sunak’s political engagement with US President Joe Biden in Belfast city centre.

Mr Sunak told Dáithí that only one person in the UK was given the award each day and that showed how special he is.

Number 10 said the Prime Minister wanted to thank the Mac Gabhanns for their “tireless campaigning” for Dáithí's Law, which implemented an opt-out organ donation system, bringing Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.

Dáithí was joined for the award presentation by his father Mairtin Mac Gabhann, mother Seph Ni Mheallain and younger brother Cairbre.

Mairtin MacGabhan said: "The Prime Minister said to Daithi out of the millions of people in the UK, today was Daithi's day. 

"For the first time ever Daithi was speechless, the photos just show Daithi's big beaming smile and for the first five or ten minutes of that meeting he was totally speechless. 

"But then when Daithi came out of his shell he made the Prime Minister a cup of tea with about fifty sugars in it and he was telling the Prime Minister all about the Belfast Giants, all about his favourite football teams, it was just a really lovely meeting."

Daithi's Law comes into effect here in Northern Ireland from 1 June, the date which marks the fifth anniversary of the Daithi's name being put on the transplant waiting list. 

The family’s campaigning efforts were a factor in prompting Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris to bypass the collapsed Stormont institutions to pass legislation at Westminster that allowed Dáithí's Law to come into effect.

The law is the culmination of years of tireless campaigning from the MacGabhan family, who can now enjoy the fruits of their hard work. 

"It's such a change from the past year and a bit where we were doing these interviews and we were always disappointed and angry and heartbroken to be honest," Mairtin said. 

"Now to be able to sit back and enjoy our hard work and see Daithi's law come into effect on 1st June and then to be presented with the freedom of the city it's just amazing.

"The fact that Daithi's story has saved lives already while he waits for his life to be saved, that makes me the proudest of all."

In a letter to Dáithí, who is awaiting a new heart, Mr Sunak said: “Every day I write a letter to thank someone for doing something remarkable for others. Today is very special, because I get to thank you.

“The bravery and determination you have shown in campaigning to change the law on organ donation in Northern Ireland is truly inspiring.

“With Dáithí's Law you are helping others in your situation to get the life-changing help they need. It is a huge achievement.

“In your father’s words: ‘Exceptional things happen for exceptional people’.

“I agree with him that you are truly exceptional and so I am delighted to recognise your courage by naming you as the UK’s 2,029th Point of Light.

“The whole country is with you as you continue your treatment.”

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