Family grateful of time to say goodbye

Alex McCartney.
Alex McCartney.

In his untimely death, little Alex McCartney was able to bring hope to other families whose infants are faced with life-threatening situations.

Alex’s family have said they were grateful of the chance to say their goodbyes to the eight-month-old last week and will take heart in the knowledge many of his organs can be used by other’s babies.

Following an accident in the family home at Charles Baron Gardens on Saturday, January 17, Alex was taken first to Craigavon, then the Royal Victoria Hospital where he was put on a life support machine. He lost his brave fight on Wednesday last.

His mother Joanne (32) explained how the time in hospital allowed her to come to terms with what was happening. She said: “From the initial shock on Saturday I hung off the end of his bed for two days, crying and crying. It took that time to accept what was happening.

“The time he was in hospital gave us the time to accept and say goodbye. We’re very grateful we had that time to say goodbye. We were able to sit with him, nurse him and talk to him.”

Joanne told how his 10-year-old sister Aimee washed Alex and dressed him and read Bible stories to him.

“She was like a second mum to him,” Joanne said.

“She’s very mature for her age. She has been coping extremely well. Her primary school, Dickson, made her a lovely card that everyone in the school had signed.”

The eight-month-old will also be dearly missed by his sister Lily (2), for whom Alex was her favourite playmate.

Alex’s father Stephen (28) paid tribute to his son saying: “He was such a happy wee boy. He never cried, he just laughed and smiled.

“He was at that stage were he was able to sit up, he was very strong.

“He liked to sit and watch whatever Lily was watching on TV.”

Joanne added: “He was really tickly, even when you were changing his clothes he just laughed and laughed.”

Joanne and Stephen said the support they’ve received has been amazing, from their immediate family, friends, from Joanne’s employers Almac and Stephen’s work at AAES in Portadown, and also from Hill Street FC, where Stephen is captain of the reserves.

They said the staff at both Craigavon Hospital and the Royal were tremendous. They talked of one nurse in particular, Louise, who spent every working minute she had with Alex. Joanne said: “She would sing to him, stroke his hair and hold his hand. The attention he got from the nurses was second to none. They spoke to us and put us at ease.

“Dawn, who guided us through the organ donation process, was another one who stood out because of their compassion and dedication.

“People complain about nurses but they don’t get the credit they deserve.”

They also gave special thanks to Malcomsons Funeral Directors as well as Joanne’s brother Richard, his fiancee Nicola Barr and Deborah Cooper for their help on the day of the accident.

Thanks were also paid to Denis Rush from the Wood Lane who came to the hospital and made a mould of Alex’s hands and feet which they could frame and treasure.

Joanne said: “I thought I’d be coming home and starting to make up his bottles and things like that, forgetting he’s not here. But you just know he’s not here.

“It was that time in hospital with him that brought it home that he wasn’t going to be with us anymore. It prepared us for what was going to happen.

“People say we’re being very strong, but we haven’t any choice. We have to be strong for the girls.

“Alex always be in our hearts.”

Organs are put to good use

Alex’s mother Joanne said: “We take comfort knowing his organs can be used.”

She explained his heart can be used to help other babies with valves transferred to two other children.

“Artificial valves don’t grow as the baby grows, but these valves will,” she said.

His father Stephen added: “Whenever they asked about donating his organs there was no chance we wouldn’t have agreed.

“If it was Alex who needed the organs we’d have been so, so grateful.”

The eight-month-old’s two kidneys and his liver will also be used for the benefit of others.

Donations can be made to PICU

Following his funeral on Saturday, Alex’s family have asked that people make donations in lieu of flowers to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Royal Victoria Hospital.

They can be made care of Malcomsons Funeral Service, 7 Robert Street, Lurgan, with the cheque made payable to Malcomsons Donation Account. People can also donate via the Just Giving site - - or using their phones by texting ARMC70 £xx to 70070.

In the future the family are planning to do some fundraising events for PICU and the Organ Donations Unit.