Dáithí MacGabhann ask families to have conversations about organ donation, regardless of age

The family of Dáithí Mac Gabhann have called on other families to talk about organ donation for children - as he marks 2,000 days on the transplant waiting list.

Dáithí, and his dad, joined the UTV newsroom team for special visit on Wednesday.

"If you had have said to me over 5 years ago that Dáithí would still be here after 2,00 days and not had the gift of a new heart, I wouldn't have believed it," dad Máirtín told UTV.

"So to have Dáithí here after 2,000 days here still and to be doing ok, we're looking at it as a celebration as well but it's very important to us to use this to try and encourage more people to join the organ donation register, but more importantly we want to encourage families to have the conversation and to consider registering the whole family on the register, regardless of age," he added.

A law which changed organ donation in Northern Ireland was named in honour of the Belfast boy.

"Dáithí's Law came into place in June of this year and what it means is, if someone passes away in circumstances where organ donation can take place, then they are considered organ donors if they haven't recorded a decision," explained Máirtín.

"Now, that decision and the final decision will always come down to the family, however it will be taken that the individual is in support of organ donation if they haven't opted out.

"But again, organ donation is a gift, and it will always be a gift, and families will always have the last say on that.

"So it changes that conversation about organ donation slightly, and we believe that it is already saving lives."

The law applies to adults over the age of 18, with some groups excluded.

"That's why we're always encouraging pediatric organ donation awareness as well," said Máirtín.

"We're not trying to make parents think of the unthinkable, we're just trying to change the norms in our society so that organ donation will just become the norm, so it's not that big of a deal to join the organ donor register.

"But for children and people of all ages to also join the organ donation register, that to us would be amazing if we were in a society where that was just the norm, we're not trying to make parents think of the unimaginable, we're just trying to encourage that conversation."

Beyond changing the law, Dáithí has also been given the freedom of the city of Belfast and he even met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Dáithí's mum and dad are both incredibly proud of his achievements.

"In Dáithí's seven years of life, he's made a lifetime of memories and the achievements that he's had in those seven years are more than some would make in their entire lifetime," said his dad.

"It's just incredible and we're so proud to be his parents.

"Dáithí has met with prime minister's, secretary of states and he talks to them as if he's their mates.

"When he met with Rishi Sunak he was winding him up that England lost to Ireland in the rugby.

"He's just so comfortable and I would like to have some of his confidence at times but it's just, he's incredible, and what he's achieved in our society, everybody has fallen in love with Dáithí regardless of their background.

"We do live in a divided society and I feel that Dáithí has brought the society a wee bit closer together with his campaign and we get support from all walks of life and we're so proud of everything he's achieved."

Although Dáithí is still waiting for a transplant, he tries his best not to let his heart condition stop him.

"He has half a working heart, he's supposed to have half the energy of a normal child," said his Dad.

"However, as you can see he is just so full of energy and so full of life, and so in those days where it is hard for us as parents to live this life, he gives us this energy, because if he can get up and live life the way he feels, then we can try our best for him as well."

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