THE family of Ballymurphy toddler Dáithí Mac Gabhann say their organ donation campaign is continuing through the current Covid-19 lockdown.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Dáithí’s father Máirtín and mum Seph say they are doing what they can to promote their message while navigating the ‘new normal’ and keeping their son safe.
“We started off our campaign, originally as a social media campaign and it really did explode with all the events we did, being out in the community,” explained Máirtín. “At the minute we are back to being on social media and it’s hard to be as visual but we are doing what we can.”
The West Belfast family went into complete lockdown on St Patrick’s Day and are not taking any chances with the three-year-old’s health.
The family’s ‘Is Deontóir Mé/Yes I Donate’ campaign began two years ago to highlight organ donation. It was during a routine 20-week scan that it was discovered that Dáithí’s heart had not developed as it should have and it was found that he had hypoplastic heart syndrome. At only four days old Dáithí travelled to London where he underwent open-heart surgery.
“We have been in the house, we haven’t left for essentials, our parents are going to get us the essentials and leaving them on the wall outside the house. Getting to the shops would seem like a holiday at the minute but we can’t take any risks with Dáithí. I’m a post-primary teacher and through having conversations with Dáithí’s cardiac nurse, I can’t teach the children of key workers due to the risks posed to him,” he said. “We were with Dáithí when he was in intensive care, we went through that as a family, when he was on a ventilator, for weeks, you just can’t take the risk. We have a community nurse coming out every fortnight and I could see the relief on her face when we told her that no-one was coming in or out of the house.”
Máirtín said that Dáithí who had started nursery this year is in “good form”, but “like so many other toddlers, he doesn’t really know what is going on”.
“If he sees a toy on the TV he asks, ‘can we go to the toy shop when people aren’t sick anymore?’ He does understand that everything is not as it was. We are trying to make the most of what it is. I feel sorry for him, for all the kids who are experiencing this. Being at home beats being on a ventilator for Dáithí and that is the way we look at it.”
The inspirational toddler has now spent over 700 days on the heart transplant list and will be two years on the waiting list come June 1.
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Máirtín. “We heard about the 29 kidney transplants that were carried out over the past two weeks here and a little heart warrior in Limerick who received her gift of a new heart last week. It’s been a tough time, a rollercoaster, some days are easier than others, there are days when cabin fever sets in but we are coping and keeping safe.”