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Mark Dobson: I hope young Daithi's story has a happy ending like mine

In his weekly column, transplant recipient Mark Dobson, the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, says the plight of a 20-month-old boy who needs a new heart highlights why organ donation is so essential

An eerie and, I have to say, unusual silence fell on our house on Monday morning. Mum was waiting on Vinny Hurrell phoning from BBC Radio Ulster to signal the beginning of her interview on the Stephen Nolan Show, and I was listening in on the TV in our family room - all ears and sworn to silence at the same time.

She was taking part at the beginning of Monday morning's radio show to highlight organ donation, specifically the plight of 20-month-old Daithi Mac Gabhann, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and is waiting for a new heart.

His story, and the moving organ donation plea from his parents, Mairtin and Seph, was carried in the Belfast Telegraph last week. Theirs is an emotional story of a young Belfast family facing the uncertainty of waiting for a vital heart transplant for their baby son.

They've been told that Daithi's heart is too weak to withstand another operation and have been fighting hard to promote organ donation and to encourage people to think about having that all-important conversation.

Mum was able to parallel their journey with ours, although explaining that while kidney patients can undergo dialysis, as I did for seven months, to keep us alive, this is sadly not an option for heart patients.

Having spent many years of my life in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, I know what it's like to rely on the amazing doctors, nurses and auxiliaries. When you have problems from birth, appointments, scans, tests and operations become almost a way of life, but the one thing we all need to hold on to is hope - hope for a brighter future.

Without being sure in the knowledge that kindness and selfless generosity exists out there, a transplant patient couldn't embrace that hope that the call will come which will change their world.

I know what it's like waiting for that call, and I know the euphoric feeling which comes from receiving it, which I did in 2009, and then again the feelings we had as a family when it was confirmed that mum was a match for me earlier this year.

I truly hope that Daithi, Mairtin and Seph will come to know that feeling and Daithi will receive the transplant which he so urgently needs.

If you get a chance please have a read at their Belfast Telegraph interview online or listen back to the Nolan Show from Monday on the BBC Radio Ulster website.

Mum also got the chance to talk about our own transplant journey, and there was even an invite from Stephen to chat with me in the future, though mum joked that he might meet his match when it comes to non-stop talking.

I'm happy to talk to anyone about organ donation if it means once again getting the chance to highlight how important it is for people to share their wishes with their loved ones and praising the amazing lifesaving heroes of our health service.

As she mentioned on the radio, mum has been working away hard in her role as Kidney Care UK Ambassador, meeting as many people as possible who want to support kidney patients.

I have been able to join her on many of her visits, and I know the sense of joy which comes from people giving back to help support others.

One visit she will be making this week is to the Nichol family, who live in Old Warren in Lisburn. Over the July holidays they held a cake sale at their home to help support patients. Stephen is a dialysis patient and along with his wife and their baby son, TJ, worked hard to bake and sell cakes. Mum is calling to say a special thank you on behalf of the patients who will be supported by the money they raised.

It is so often the act of kindness which makes a real and lasting difference, which helps to support the daily lives of patients and which also helps to highlight and support the work of our health service as it continues to cope with ever-increasing demand for transplants. Her charity provides this wraparound support to patients young and old.

That's it for this week as we get a few drops more rain, which is always a bonus on the farm as we have had such a lengthy dry period this summer.

And just to keep you up to speed on my health, my appointments continue as usual at the renal unit at the Belfast City Hospital as they keep an eye on my tablet regime and levels and make sure I am continuing to do well.

Belfast Telegraph

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