Schoolkids become organ donors after being bowled over by 'high-fiving' toddler who needs new heart

Dáithi Mac Gabhann at the new Organ donation mural on the Whiterock Road. Picture Mal McCann.
Seanín Graham

MORE than 130 pupils at a Belfast school were so moved by the plight of a toddler who urgently needs a heart transplant that they have signed up to become organ donors.

Students at Coláiste Feirste met with 22-month-old Dáithí Mac Gabhann and his parents last week and within days joined the organ donation register.

The feisty little boy, who loves fist-pumps, high-fives, blowing kisses and can communicate through Irish and English, has been waiting just over 100 days for a new heart after being formally placed on the organ donation register on June 1.

The west Belfast tot was born with a rare Hypoplastic left heart syndrome - and given just 10 per cent chance of survival after at an operation when he was four-days-old.

His father, Máirtín, and mother, Seph Ní Mhealláin, have been visiting schools and clubs across the city as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of donation.

Daithi Mac Gabhann at the new Organ donation mural on the Whiterock Road Picture Mal McCann.

Máirtín, who is a former teacher at Coláiste Feirste, said he was "astounded" after getting a telephone call about the massive number of school children who had signed up to the register - just after one meeting with his "beautiful" son.

"I know the school and was expecting the students to be affected about the issue, I thought that maybe 20 or 30 kids would sign up to become donors," he said.

"But when I found out that it was close to 140, I couldn't believe it. It's this type of support that is keeping our minds of potentially not getting the gift of life for our son.

"When Dáithí was born, we didn't have time to think of the worst, we were in the middle of hell and everything was just going at 1000 miles an hour. Now all the surgery for him has been exhausted and doctors told us in January the only option is a transplant. A new heart is the last resort."

Following an agonising six-month wait for their child to formally placed on register - not all children are eligible for transplant surgery - the doting parents are now waiting on that phone call.

"It's a very anxious time and we are constantly checking our phones. Thankfully he is doing ok at the moment. When we were waiting to find out if he was going to get on the list, we decided to enjoy every minute and make memories...But now he has a chance, we just want to get that call."

For more information,visitáithí. To sign the organ donation register, visit

Dáithi and his dad, Máirtin, are part of a campaign to raise awareness for organ donation. Picture by Mal McCann

Some of the pupils from Coláiste Feirste who registered to became organ donors in support of little Dáithi Mac Gabhann who needs a heart transplant. Picture Mal McCann.

Some of the pupils from Coaliste Feirste who registered to became organ donors in support of little Daithi Mac Gabhann who needs a heart transplant Picture Mal McCann.

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