Distraught parents share heartache after toddler died in blind cord accident
The distraught parents of a toddler who died after a blind cord accident have called for the dangerous attachments to be banned.
Two-year-old Bryan Saba had only lived in Portadown, Co Armagh for two weeks when he accidentally got caught up in a living room blind cord as he played at home on September 11.
Despite emergency treatment, Bryan never regained consciousness and died at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children on September 25.
His parents, Feliciano and Maria Jose Saba, who are originally from Guinea-Bissau in west Africa, decided to donate Bryan's organs to help other seriously ill children.
However, the couple have now spoken out about their pain and loss in the hope that other families never experience the trauma that haunts them to this day.
The Portuguese-speaking parents revealed through an interpreter that at the time of the accident Bryan's mother was still in Italy, where the family had lived for 20 years.
Bryan, the youngest of seven children, was being minded at home by his 20-year-old brother, who tragically could not call for an ambulance because he cannot speak English. Instead, he dashed 300 metres to a nearby shop where his aunt worked and she raised the alarm.
Mr Saba described getting a phone call at work about the accident as "a violent shock".
"I could not believe it, it's still hard to believe it," he said.
The couple also told how they were unfamiliar with UK blinds as they did not have them in Italy and were unaware of the dangers they posed to children.
Hetty Smith, a family co-ordinator from the Community Intercultural Programme, has supported the couple in recent weeks over the funeral arrangements and acted as translator.
Mrs Saba said: "We appeal to all parents who have suffered the same sorrow to join together and raise their voices so that this will never happen again.
"The law should be changed to stop these blinds with cords being used. This should not be a taboo subject to people - they should talk and share and pass information so that it can be shared to protect others.
"We could never have dreamed that a blind cord could be so dangerous. I would warn the children about the stairs, but never could I have imagined that a blind cord could have done that to a child.
"If I had have had the information, I would have taken measures to protect Bryan."
The couple are devout Roman Catholics who more recently have attended the local Elim Church, primarily because they decided to move to Portadown after Mr Saba lost his job in Verona.
"We believe that God must have an important mission for Bryan in order to take him from us, so we must help him and work so that this does not happen again," said Mrs Saba.
"Bryan was a very loving, happy child. He would call me love and my treasure in Italian and hugged me when I got home from work.
"He was always running around and only stopped when he was tired. We would find him resting his head on the table sometimes.
"I was desperate when I got to the hospital. I would be lying with Bryan and then turn round and see those blind cords in the hospital. It only made my pain worse. And that's a place where they know about these things."
Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, warned in March this year that it could take as little as 18 seconds for a toddler to lose their life after being entangled in a blind cord or chain.