Northern Ireland news

Community rallies behind young mother following sudden passing of 'miracle' baby

Shane Garland who died on December 1 after being diagnosed with a rare condition. Photo by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

A YOUNG west Belfast mother has told of how she has been left in "unbearable" pain following the sudden loss of her baby son - just two weeks after he was diagnosed with a rare, genetic disorder, usually associated with girls.

Days after laying her youngest child to rest, Kat Garland told the Irish News how Shane, who would have been two-years-old on December 27, had been described as a "miracle" by doctors.

The youngster, who passed away on December 1, is thought to have been the only boy to be diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in Europe.

A rare, genetic disorder that affects brain development, Rett Syndrome results in mental and physical disability. Estimated to affect around one in 12,000 girls born each year, it is rarely seen in boys.

Ms Garland, who is a mother-of-five, said her son had experienced feeding difficulties after he was born and was later diagnosed with epilepsy.

However, in November, after experiencing breathing difficulties, Shane was taken into the intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital and placed on a ventilator.

Two weeks later, following the results of a genetic test which had been conducted at Great Ormond Street, Ms Garland was informed her son had Rett Syndrome and doctors revealed they could do no more to help him.

The Poleglass mother decided to bring her child home and on December 1 was lying beside him, singing when he took his last breath.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the west Belfast community has rallied to help and a fundraising campaign has so far raised more than £1600 to help pay towards funeral costs, and also to help Ms Garland towards trying to make a Christmas for her other children - Kyla (9), Ethan (7), Dylan (5) and Ellie (3).

Poleglass mother, Kat Garland pictured with her mother Rosemary and other four children Ethan, Kyla, Ellie and Dylan. Ms Garland's youngest child, Shane died on December 1 after being diagnosed with a rare, genetic disorder. Photo by Mal McCann

Speaking last night, Ms Garland said the support she had received had been "amazing".

"I have never seen anything like it," she said.

"The support has been amazing My local taxi depot, neighbours, friends and shops, all helping out. It just means I can go and get a headstone and I don't have to worry about getting the money up for it. I just want it to be nice.

"I just can't thank them enough. I will never forget what (they) have done for me. It's just touched me so much".

The 28-year-old said she had been left in "unbearable" pain since losing Shane.

"It has been terrible," she said.

"It is just a mummy's worst nightmare to be honest with you. You never think it is going to happen to you. The pain is just unbearable.

"It's just not real. I am getting up every day and I am thinking about him. It hasn't hit me yet".

Ms Garland said she would remember her youngest child as a baby who was "always smiling".

"He had a strong personality," she said.

"He was always smiling. He was a very good baby. Never cried, never moaned through the whole two years, nothing. He was special....all he done was smile and I'll never forget it. He was very close to me. It was just that bond.

"He was so popular. Everybody knew him.

"I brought him home and all the time he fought against it. He died on December 1. I was with him. I was singing to him. I was lying beside him. He smiled at me and took his last breath. He was at peace. The send-off he got was just lovely".

She added that she would try "and make some sort of Christmas for my other children".

"It will be a difficult time for the family but we will be thinking of Shane and I know he's at peace," she said.

::Donations to the fund in memory of baby Shane can be made at

Shane Garland who died on December 1 after being diagnosed with a rare condition. Photo by Mal McCann

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