Young transplant campaigner Dáithí Mac Gabhann presented with award by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Young transplant campaigner Dáithí Mac Gabhann presented with award by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

YOUNG transplant campaigner Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who successfully fronted a campaign to change Northern Ireland's transplant laws, has been honoured by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Dáithí and his family spearheaded a campaign to implement an opt-out donor system in the North.

Named in honour of the six-year-old from Belfast — who has been awaiting a heart transplant since January 2018 — Dáithí's Law will come into effect from June 1.

Mr Sunak praised Daithi's bravery and determination (Image: Niall Carson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Presenting Dáithí with a Points of Light award while in Belfast to meet US President Joe Biden, Mr Sunak described the youngster as 'truly exceptional'.

"Every day I write a letter to thank someone for doing something remarkable for others," wrote the Prime Minister in a special letter presented to Dáithí.

"Today is very special, because I get to thank you.


"The bravery and determination you have shown in campaigning to change the law on organ donation in Northern Ireland is truly inspiring.

"With Daithi's Law you are helping others in your situation to get the life-changing help they need. It is a huge achievement.

"In your father's words: 'Exceptional things happen for exceptional people'.

"I agree with him that you are truly exceptional and so I am delighted to recognise your courage by naming you as the UK's 2029th Point of Light.

Dáithí was joined by his parents Seph and Máirtín as well as younger brother Cairbre for his meeting with the Prime Minister (Image: Niall Carson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

"The whole country is with you as you continue your treatment."

The Points of Light awards are presented daily on behalf of the Prime Minister to outstanding individuals across Britain and Northern Ireland who inspire others.

They were introduced in 2014 in partnership with the original American programme that was established by US President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

Opt-out system

Dáithí — who was joined by parents Mairtin and Seph and baby brother Cairbre at the Culloden Hotel on Wednesday — was born in October 2016 with hypoplastic left Heart Syndrome, meaning only one side of his heart worked.

After several operations to correct the issue, it was felt his condition was too severe and in January 2018, his parents were told that a transplant was Dáithí's only option.

Since then, Dáithí and his supporters have campaigned to raise awareness of organ donation and lobbied for a change of law to a soft opt-out donor system.

Following the success of their campaign, all adults in Northern Ireland will be considered potential organ donors unless they choose to opt out or are in an excluded group.

Those excluded from deemed consent legislation are children under 18, people who lack the mental capacity to understand the change in law, visitors to Northern Ireland and temporary residents.