Belfast Telegraph

Toddler Daithi's only hope is new heart

Mum Seph Ni Mheallain and dad Mairtin Mac Gabhann and with their son, Daithi
Mum Seph Ni Mheallain and dad Mairtin Mac Gabhann and with their son, Daithi

By Lisa Smyth

Little Daithi MacGabhann was the star of the show at the launch of a new policy to increase the number of organ donors in Northern Ireland.

Born with a congenital heart defect, the west Belfast two-year-old had his first open heart surgery when he was just five days old. He almost died as a result of the operation.

Dad Mairtin (28) explained: "The doctors told us they didn't think he was going to make it.

"His heart began to fail, they had to put him on a special machine, but said he could only stay on it for five days because of the risks that go with it, like stroke.

"He was on it for six days, the doctors were about to give up on him, but then Daithi opened his eyes and it just made us realise how hard he was fighting to live."

Daithi went on to have further surgery from which he recovered well and was finally able to go home.

Mairtin said: "He was doing so well I was thinking he would just have his third surgery and we would get on with life as normally as possible."

However, the family suffered a devastating blow earlier this year when doctors told them they were unable to repair a leak in his heart, meaning the life-saving third surgery he required was no longer an option.

Daithi's only hope now is a heart transplant.

"Every time the phone rings you jump, you automatically think it could be the call to say they have found a heart," said Mairtin.

"Life without Daithi in it is unimaginable and we're asking everyone out there to sign up to the donor register.

"Me and my wife are both on the register now and we've even signed up Daithi as well. It really is a matter of life and death."

To sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit

Belfast Telegraph


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