Dáithí MacGabhann's dad 'proud beyond words' of six-year-old's achievements

Dáithí MacGabhann has made his dad proud beyond words as legislation which changes the way organ consent is granted, has come into effect in Northern Ireland.

The law has been named after the six-year-old who his dad explained "is one of the longest waiting children waiting on the gift of a heart transplant".

Máirtín MacGabhann told UTV that he was "just so thankful that he's my son and that all this positive change is because of him".

From Thursday, every adult in Northern Ireland will be considered a potential donor unless they opt ot and specifically choose not to. This new legislation brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK with the aim of saving more lives.

Dáithí's dad, Máirtín MacGabhann, explained: "He is six years old, he has met the prime minister, he is a law changer, he's getting the freedom of Belfast City on Saturday.

"As his daddy I can't even describe quite how proud of him, I'm just so thankful that he's my son and that all this positive change is because of him".

He added that Thursday also marks the fifth anniversary of Dáithí's wait on the transplant register.

"He is one of the longest waiting children waiting on the gift of a heart transplant, and every day we just have to create the most precious of memories because we don't know what the future holds.

His father added: "He's the love of my life".

There are currently 140 waiting on an organ transplant - sadly between 10-15 people die each year while waiting but last year 96 lives were saved. Clare McFaul from Larne died suddenly in 2020 when she was 32-years-old. Claire was not on the donor register but her family decided to donate both her kidneys - giving two men the gift of a new life.

Her sister Ciara Hunter told UTV: "It was difficult dealing with the fact that Clare was gone, but Clare was the sort of person who would literally cross the road to help you.

"People are automatically on the register, and if that had been the case with Clare, it would have been an added reassurance with us, there would be no double guessing.

"If she had felt strongly enough about it she would have taken herself off the register, it would have been a level of being able to sit back and go, 'I know 100% I did what she wanted'," explained Ms Hunter.

Edel Livingstone, the Lead Nurse for Organ Donation NI, outlined how organ donation is a "precious gift".

"We know that over 90% of individuals here in Northern Ireland support organ donation in principle, however only 53% of individuals have had the opportunity to register their decision on the NHS organ donor register.

"By switching to the opt out system, through education, public awareness and the campaign, this will allow individuals to have conversations with their families and to register that decision.

"We hope that will support our families that we meet as specialist nurses at very emotional and difficult and distressing times, that will make that decision easier for them.

"Ultimately, that will lead to an increase in consent rates and also an increase in the number of organs available for transplantation for those desperately waiting on the transplant waiting list, desperately waiting on that call.

"We would encourage individuals in Northern Ireland to have a discussion with their family and conversation with their family and to register their decision regardless of what that may be.

"Further information is available on the organ donation website.

"As specialist nurses we will continue to have families involved before organ donation would ever go ahead."

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