Tragic little Daniel Grant's organs will help to save other lives
In the midst of unfathomable grief, a couple who lost their three-year-old boy in a freak accident at the weekend have found the courage to donate their child's organs.
Little Daniel Grant, from Mayobridge in Co Down, died after becoming entangled in the cord of a set of blinds at his home.
His heartbroken parents Brian and Paula, who have three other young children, made the difficult decision to permit Daniel's organs to be used to save the lives of others after efforts to resuscitate him failed on Saturday night.
Daniel, who had a great love of tractors, according to his aunt Elaine Grant, is thought to have climbed on a windowsill to peer out at a passing farm vehicle before slipping and becoming entangled in the cord.
The shocking nature of the child's death has sent a wave of grief through the local community and across Northern Ireland.
The Stormont Executive has now been urged to launch a safety campaign to make people more aware of the dangers of blind cords, found in most homes across the province.
The call came as statistics revealed that the cords of this type have been responsible for deaths of 25 children in the UK and Ireland since 1999.
Speaking of the tragedy, local SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie paid tribute to the grieving couple for showing "strong integrity" and for "putting others first" by allowing their child's organs to be donated.
"This is a very difficult time for them. They have the sympathy of the whole community.
"They are private people but I would commend them that in the face of great adversity they are trying to provide benefit to others.
"This shows they are people of strong integrity and, ultimately, put people first," she said.
Former GAA star Joe Brolly, who donated a kidney through the living donor programme, was moved by the Grants' "sacred gift" which he said could benefit up to seven or eight people.
"It's a very, very sacred gift that they have made and I have spoken to a lot of families who have allowed donation to proceed and also to some who felt that they couldn't make the very difficult decision at the time, and worried about it afterwards."
Father-of-five Brolly, a barrister, broadcaster and writer, revealed that on Monday Health Minister Edwin Poots confirmed that a public consultation on a proposed change to the law governing transplantation was "imminent". The consultation concerns the introduction of legislation which would mean people here would have to opt out of organ donation rather than opt in, as is currently the case.
Fr Tom McAteer from nearby Rathfriland, who, along with other clergy, helped comfort the parents in hospital on Saturday night, said the Grant family "were stressed and heartbroken" over the tragedy.
Campaigners for a change in the law to make organ donation the norm in Northern Ireland say many more people would be alive today if the 'soft' opt-out option was adopted. If the law was changed, every deceased person would be considered as a willing donor, unless they had stated their opposition by opting out. GAA pundit Joe Brolly, who donated a kidney, said the change could see a 50% rise in the number of organ donations.