Organs of boy (7) killed in crash saved others’ lives, inquest hears

Heart of Meath boy Daniel O’Keeffe successfully transplanted to two-year-old

Drogheda Coroner’s Court heard father donated Daniel O’Keeffe’s organs after double tragedy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Drogheda Coroner’s Court heard father donated Daniel O’Keeffe’s organs after double tragedy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The organs of a seven-year-old boy who was killed when his mother’s car was hit by a truck have been donated to others, an inquest has been told. His heart has saved the life of a two-year-old.

Daniel O’Keeffe had been on his way to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, with his mother, Emma, when their car crashed into an articulated truck, killing them both, an inquest heard.

Despite the appalling tragedy, the boy’s father, Robin, decided to donate his son’s pancreas, adrenal glands, liver, heart and kidney.

The coroner, Ronan Maguire, said the heart had gone to a two-year-old boy, who is now doing well after the transplant. His liver had gone to another boy. One of his kidneys was given to a mother, who is also doing very well.

Emma O’Keeffe, who was 26, had collected Daniel after his school rang to say he was not feeling well on January 12th this year. She took him to their GP, who advised bringing him to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, in Drogheda.

Mrs O’Keeffe was driving there from their home in Nobber, Co Meath, when their car crossed over to the wrong side of the road. A Garda forensic-collision investigator, Thomas Brennan, said the accident happened at 1pm, and dash-cam footage from the cab of the Scania lorry showed that in less than two seconds the car had crossed on to the lorry’s side of the road.

Brief lapse

As a result of the impact the steering locked and the lorry driver lost control of the vehicle, which had been in a safe position on the correct side of the road. He had tried to take action to avoid the crash.

It happened on a straight stretch of road just after a gentle bend, and the Garda said the footage shows the car first veered into the centre of the road, although it was still on its correct, southbound, side. But it then crossed completely on to the wrong side of the road and collided with the lorry. The car appeared to maintain a straight line and did not attempt to turn left or right.

Garda Brennan concluded that “a brief lapse in concentration” by Mrs O’Keeffe was the cause of the collision. She died the following day, at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, from multiple injuries as a result of the crash.

The inquest heard her son died nine days later, on January 22nd, at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin, from severe head injuries.

He had complained of feeling light-headed, and the GP referral letter to the hospital, which was found in the car by her husband, Robin, after the accident, said his mother was showing similar symptoms.

Temple Street hospital confirmed later that Daniel had tested positive for influenza A virus.