The mother and father of brave Larne schoolboy Sammy Haveron hope they can save other parents the heartbreak of losing a child – by donating his organs to those who desperately need them.
Sammy, 11, was a member of the 2007 team at Wellington Rec Youth football club in Larne.
He collapsed during training last week and lost his fight to live on Wednesday morning.
His former principal at Linn Primary School, Andrea Duff, told the News Letter his parents Gina and Edwin decided to donate his organs to others.
“Despite battling a rare heart condition, he never let it hold him back and lived life to the full,” she said.
Tributes on social media have unanimously seen Sammy described as “popular”, “caring”, “kind” and a hugely committed young footballer on the pitch.
Youth teams from across Northern Ireland also voiced their sympathy to his club.
The football fanatic and Arsenal fan had as his motto on social media “Football is life – if I see a football I kick it”.
He had just left P7 at Linn Primary School in Larne, with Ms Duff telling the News Letter his parents Gina and Edwin were keen to bring a positive from his tragic death.
“They have decided his organs are all being donated,” she said. “They have made the decision to help other parents and children and hope some good will come out of this. They feel it is an easy decision to make.
“They hope some other mothers and fathers will not have to go though what they are going through.”
The principal said Sammy’s parents also emphasised the level of care they were given as a family by the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in the past week “could not have been better”.
Her former pupil had a rare condition, she said, which meant his heart sometimes ran at twice the normal rate. After having had extensive medical oversight, he had been given the green light to enjoy a full range of physical exercise.
“Sammy lived live to the full despite his condition,” she said. “He had a fun-filled 11 years.”
Sammy loved to run in the playground, play football, swimming and outdoor pursuits.
Staff at the school gave him their annual Citizenship Award in June recognition of the courage with which he faced his challenges, she said.
“Sammy was courageous beyond belief and never ever complained when things got tough. Everyone who knew him loved him. Some years we have to stop and think about who we give the award to, but this year there was only one person - Sammy was head and shoulders above everyone else. He was always smiling and was loved by everyone, I have an absolutely devastated staff.”
• Sammy’s funeral is at noon on Monday in First Larne Presbyterian Church.