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Family of Dáithí Mac Gabhann tell of disappointment that organ transplant network could be shut down as a result of Covid-19

The family of Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who has been waiting on a heart transplant for more than 650 days, have told of their disappointment at the news that the UK's organ transplant network could be forced to shut down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Dáithí is pictured with his parents, Mairtin and Seph. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

THE family of a young west Belfast boy have told of their disappointment after learning that the UK's organ transplant network could be forced to shut down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who is three-and-a-half, is on the heart transplant register. He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and has already undergone a number of major surgeries.

The Ballymurphy toddler was given just a 10 per cent chance of survival after the first operation at just four-days-old.

Considered stable and able to be at home with his parents, the family has been self-isolating since St Patrick's Day in a bid to protect his fragile immune system from the threat of Covid-19.

Read More: Dáithí Mac Gabhann's family forced to return to Belfast after self-isolating in Ballycastle

As they continue to wait for a heart for their son, it was revealed yesterday that the UK's organ transplant network could be forced to shut down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The family of Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who has been waiting on a heart transplant for more than 650 days, have told of their disappointment at the news that the UK's organ transplant network could be forced to shut down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Picture by Mark Marlow

According to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), one factor is the pressure on intensive care beds.

Since the beginning of March the number of transplants has fallen dramatically.

This time last year more than 80 transplants were being carried out each week in the UK compared to now, when just a handful of the most urgent cases - mainly heart and liver - are going ahead.

Dáithí's father Máirtín said the news had made him "feel sick with worry".

"It is totally understandable why there has been a severe decrease in the number of transplants," he said.

The family of Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who has been waiting on a heart transplant for more than 650 days, have told of their disappointment at the news that the UK's organ transplant network could be forced to shut down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak

"It is heartbreaking and it is also worrying. It is devastating to hear stuff like this when you are waiting over 650 days.

"We have friends in the transplant community and seeing a lot of people getting letters to say they are suspended from the list.

"I am thinking about all those people in intensive care or in high-dependency who are waiting for their transplants who might miss their window.

"The hope is they will be able to continue to do the most urgent surgeries, that people won't miss their gift."

Mr Mac Gabhann appealed to people to follow the guidelines and stay indoors so the pandemic can pass quickly.

"It started with disappointment and now, you get angry," he said.

"We have been self isolating since St Patrick's Day. We have not been out Dáithí. I would just say, it is life and death and especially with the news today, it is so real. Get over it and stay indoors."

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