This Saturday, the Stena Line Belfast Giants is joining forces with a very special local family to mark Organ Donation Discussion Day.
At the Giants’ next home game versus the Fife Flyers, Dáithí Mac Gabhann and his family will be VIP guests at The SSE Arena, Belfast, as the family seeks to raise awareness and open discussion on the important issue of organ donation.
Dáithí Mac Gabhann was born in October 2016 with a half working heart, but one that has done more good for the community in five short years than most strive for in a lifetime. After two open heart surgeries when he was just days old, and a long hard battle since, he is on the organ donation list for a new heart. There is no cure for his Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, but a new heart will give him years more to live the bright and positive life his family want for him.
It’s been over three years since Dáithí was put on the organ donation list. In that time his family and community began the Donate4Dáithí campaign to raise awareness about organ donation, remove stigma, and, most importantly, encouraging people to talk openly about it with their families.
On Saturday 11 December, the Belfast Giants will participate in Organ Donation Discussion Day with support from Dáithí, as he and his family as tell their story and put a real face to the need to normalise organ donation.
Speaking ahead of the game, Dáithí’s father Máirtín Mac Gabhann explained the driving force of the campaign:“Although 42% of the population at the time were registered organ donors as, as parents of a child who’s only chance is the gift of organ donation, these numbers are far too low. So, we decided to get together to see what we can do. We wanted to have an awareness campaign on organ donation in West Belfast. We’re delighted that, three years later, 50% of the population have now joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.”
From small beginnings in their local community, the campaign has grown over the last few years to inspired people around Ireland, the UK, and abroad.
“The campaign just grew legs and we've seen the difference that we're making,” explains Máirtín. “If people are more aware of organ donation, they're a lot more likely to agree to organ donation. We’re very aware that a tragedy needs to occur for organ donation to happen. However, in the three years that we've been campaigning, a lot of families have reached out to us to say that they have donated loved ones’ organs, because they had heard Dáithí’s story.
“Tallking about organ donation doesn't have to be this very depressing, serious conversation; it could and should be more like, ‘in the event that anything was to happen to me, I would be I would love to give the gift of life’ – that simple conversation could spark someone taking the steps to join the organ donation register.”
The Belfast Giants know the lifesaving power of Daithi’s campaign and is proud to support the Mac Gabhann family’s campaign through this joint initiative.
Laura Small, relationship and business development manager for the Belfast Giants said:“We are proud to be supporting Organ Donation Discussion Day with Dáithí and his family. We have seen how organ donation has impacted and changed the lives of many of our fans. This Christmas, we would ask you to register as a donor, there is no better a gift, than the gift of life.”
Máirtín and Dáithí are massive Belfast Giants fans and are excited to be a part of this important conversation at this Saturday’s game. They’ll be on the Bridge with Organ Donation NI to share their story and help open the conversation about organ donation.
Organ Donation NI and the Public Health Agency are encouraging people to: