Northern Ireland

Dáithí Mac Gabhann's father on 'massive milestone' fifth birthday for son

Daithi Mac Gabhann at the Organ Donation mural in Ballymurphy. Picture by Mal McCann
Daithi Mac Gabhann at the Organ Donation mural in Ballymurphy. Picture by Mal McCann

WEST Belfast boy Dáithí Mac Gabhann who is waiting for a heart transplant will tomorrow celebrate his fifth birthday, a milestone his father last night said they "never knew we would reach".

Máirtín Mac Gabhann said it would be a celebration of "how far Daíthí has come" as they continue to wait on a new heart for their son.

The young boy was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and has been on a waiting list for most of his life.

His parents, Mr Mac Gabhann and Seph Ní Mhealláin, set up the Donate4Dáithí campaign and have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of organ donation.

Just days ago they launched a new mural in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in a further bid to promote the message, 'Organ Donation Saves Lives'.

The colourful artwork also celebrates the family's relationship with the GAA and the Ladies' Gaelic Football Association, which recently supported their organ donation campaign.

But Mr Mac Gabhann said it came after the recent death of his mother, Frances, who he said was "central to our campaign".

"She did everything she could to promote awareness," he said.

"Although there were thoughts of postponing the mural launch, the message of 'Organ Donation Saves Lives' is too important and we decided to continue.

"That is what Dáithí’s Nanny Frances would have wanted.

"The mural is to celebrate our relationship with Antrim GAA/LGFA and the wider GAA community, but has a very important message that organ donation does save lives and that we want people to pass that on.

"Our campaign is all about creating awareness and hope for people waiting on the list.

"We hope that this mural will be a conversation starter and hopefully encourage more people to join the NHS organ donor register."

He said the mural, created by artist Marty Lyons, was dedicated to a local family, who recently lost both parents to Covid within 10 days of each other.

"We don't fundraise, we do enough to cover costs and run the campaign," he said.

"But the Doyle family asked for money in lieu of flowers to be given towards our campaign, so the mural is dedicated to them. We hope it will brighten up the area and spread our message."

Speaking about their son turning five tomorrow, Mr Mac Gabhann said it was a "massive milestone".

"We never knew we would reach this," he said.

"But it shows how far Daíthí has come, we have come this far. We hope we're getting our message out there that organ donation saves lives and we would encourage people to keep spreading that message."