Hopes that Oisin donation will spark wider participation in scheme

Oisin McGrath
Oisin McGrath

Oisin McGrath’s family’s decision to donate his organs for transplant is likely to have encouraged others to join the donor register, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has said.

The 13-year-old from Belcoo in Co Fermanagh was injured while playing football at St Michael’s College in Enniskillen on Monday.

He died on Thursday and his parish priest said his organs have been donated with the intention they can be transplanted to help five other people in need.

There were emotional scenes last night as a hearse carrying Oisin’s body slowly made its way through the border village to the McGrath home.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested soon after the incident but was later bailed pending further police inquiries. A post mortem examination is to be carried out to establish the exact cause of death.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for NHSBT said she was aware of the McGrath family tragedy, and that it is likely to have been a major factor in an increased number of people seeking information on how to join the register of donors.

“Quite often we will see an increase in the number of people who go through to our website and click on to join the organ donor register. There are only around 5,000 potential organ donors in the UK in any one year. Of those 5,000 who start out as potential donors, some of them would then not go on to donate for various reasons”.

Reasons include a poor medical history or organs damaged during life-saving attempts.

She said: “We just don’t have that huge number of donors coming forward every day, but we don’t like young men to die like this poor young man has, and to have more families bereaved like this.”

Around 200 people in Northern Ireland are on the transplant waiting list and each year around 15 people die waiting for an organ.

The NHSBT spokeswoman added: “It’s really good that people go on to our website and sign up to say that their choice, should they die in those circumstances, would be to donate their organs to help others, but that’s not the end of it. What they need to do is to talk about it with their families, so that when a family is faced with this difficult decision at such a tragic time, they know what their loved one wanted.”

Chairman of the board of governors at St Michael’s, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, said: “The entire school community is deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Oisin, a Year 9 student. Oisin was a very bright and talented student with a great love of sport.”

When news of Oisin’s death was announced on Thursday night, Peter Robinson tweeted: “Young Oisin McGrath’s death is heartbreaking. I’ll be praying for his family and all those devastated by this sad news tonight.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of Oisin, and I would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed this incident, or who has any information, to contact detectives at Enniskillen PSNI on 101.”

Oisin’s funeral will take place at Holywell Catholic Church in Belcoo tomorrow.