THE family of little Dáithí Mac Gabhann are celebrating after learning that their son has made the shortlist for the annual British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero awards.

It was discovered during a routine 20-week scan that little Dáithí’s heart had not developed as it should have and it was found that the now two-year-old toddler had Hypoplastic heart syndrome. At only four-days-old Dáithí travelled to London where he underwent open heart surgery. Six days after that he underwent his second open heart operation.

Since the family’s ‘Is Deontóir Mé/Yes I Donate’ campaign began back in July 2018, it has since been reported that an increase of four percent of people in the north have opted onto the organ donation register.

Dáithí’s parents Máirtín and Seph told the Andersonstown News how delighted they were to learn of the news and that their visit to London for the event in September will coincide with the toddler’s third birthday.

“The British Heart Foundation run their annual Heart Hero award every year,” explained Seph.

“Máirtín put in the application for it, it was basically a 4,000 word essay and we got an email the other day saying that Dáithí had been shortlisted to the last three.

“The event is going to be held in the Globe Theatre in London, we are so over the moon, we can’t believe it,” she said.

Seph and Máirtín also spoke of how their campaign has taken striking visual awareness with the addition of Dáithí’s pink Is Deontóir Mé slogan and picture emblazoned on a black taxi.

“To see the logo on the taxi fills us with so much pride, everyone is going to see it on the road and even if it makes somebody stop and turn around, maybe think twice about organ donation for a wee second, it makes all the difference.”

Máirtín added: “I can’t really put it into words how happy we are to find out that Dáithí has been shortlisted for the Heart Hero award. We have sparked up a great relationship with the British Heart Foundation for a couple of months now. They do absolutely unbelievable work that will benefit Dáithí and people like Dáithí, they also work on the promotion of organ donation as well.

“In these very hard times, to hear that Dáithí is worthy of this award is great for us.

“We are really looking forward to going back to London as Dáithi’s hospital is not that far from where we are going to be – not that we were looking to go into an ICU ward but we can’t wait to bring Dáithí in. The last time the staff saw him he was such a tiny baby, his chest was open, they were preparing us for the worst. Dáithi is turning three when we are over and we can’t wait to show him off to all the doctors and nurses who saved his life.”

“Being from West Belfast, I’ve used black taxis all my life, five times a week, twice a day, all my life. To know we have my son on the taxi in bright pink is brilliant, everytime we see the taxi we cheer, Daithí shouts out the car window ‘meeeeeeeeeee’. We want to thank driver Micky Russell for helping us to create awareness, it looks class, we are delighted,” he said.

Micky added: “There are only two things you can see from space, the Great Wall of China and my taxi,” he laughed. “It’s an absolute privilege to have the wrap around on the taxi, to create that visual awareness. The taxi is up and down the road, the Shankill, I’ve tourists in the taxi as well, they would ask ‘why the colour?’ I can say to them about organ donation and Dáithí.”