Máirtín Mac Gabhann named Ulster University Postgraduate student of the year

Máirtín Mac Gabhann, who has campaigned for a heart for his young son Dáithí has been awarded the accolade of Postgraduate Student of the Year by Ulster University

Máirtín was honoured at winter graduation on Monday, 18 December.

The Mac Gabhann family have also recently welcomed two new arrivals as Dáithí's twin brothers, Pádraig and Declan, were born earlier in December.

Mr Mac Gabhann began his studies in September 2022 while tirelessly campaigning from Stormont to Downing Street on behalf of his son, who has battled Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) since birth.

Dáithí has been on the organ transplant waiting list for more than 2,000 days.

His campaign prompted a change in Northern Ireland’s organ donation laws.

Most adults are now considered potential organ donors after Daithi’s Law came into effect last year.

The seven-year-old met leaders including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill and former health minister Robin Swann during the high-profile campaign.

Mr Mac Gabhann said he is proud of the campaign.

“I am truly honoured to receive the Ulster University Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year 2023 Award,” he said.

“Being a student here has been an incredible journey, and I’m immensely proud of how the course has helped me lead the Donate4Daithi campaign in raising awareness of organ donation and the introduction of Daithi’s Law.

“This recognition is not just mine but a testament to the support of my family — Seph and our children, Daithi, Cairbre, Declan, and Padraig.

“Their strength fuels my commitment, and together, we’ve achieved positive change, turning our personal challenges into such a positive. I’m grateful for the experience at Ulster University so far, and to the lecturers for all their support."

Mr MacGabhann used his expertise in PR and communications for the campaign Donate4Daithi to raise awareness about organ donation.

He completed the taught elements of a Masters while juggling the campaign, caring for his son and raising a family.

It is the latest recognition for the family, with Daithi having been granted the freedom of Belfast and the Prime Minister’s Point of Light award.

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