DURING his all-too-short life, Cillian Minnock, like other little boys, loved superheroes.
Now the two-year-old has become a superhero in his own right.
The youngster from Ballinteer, south Dublin, died suddenly last month after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
Yesterday, on what would have been his third birthday, his heartbroken father Donal told how he and his partner Elena made the decision to donate their only son's organs in order to help others.
"He often proclaimed himself to be a superhero. Thanks to the staff of Crumlin hospital and the transplant coordinator, we were able to give Cillian the opportunity to be a real superhero and his legacy lives on with those that he has helped.
"We would encourage parents to consider that 'what if' scenario in the event that they had to confront the horrific situation of the loss of their child, of the other families they could possibly help through organ donation," Donal said.
He said that he and partner Elena had no hesitation in agreeing to the organ donation.
"It was a very easy decision to make, we were both like-minded on it.
"At the end of the day we would like to have our son back but if, at the stroke of a pen, we can prevent another family from going through what we're going through, then we wanted to do it," said Donal.
Cillian collapsed in his bedroom on the night of October 10 and within minutes had stopped breathing.
Elena frantically performed CPR on the toddler while emergency services gave her instructions over the phone and an ambulance sped to their home.
Cillian was rushed to Tallaght Hospital before being transferred to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.
He was placed on a life-support machine in the intensive-care unit.
Tragically, tests showed that there was no brain activity and, on October 12, Cillian was pronounced dead.
A scan later established that he had suffered a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage and that he had probably died within minutes of his collapse at home.
Donal paid tribute to the doctors and nurses at Tallaght and Crumlin hospitals for all they had done for his son.
"The staff we dealt with at both hospitals were terrific. We particularly found the staff of PICU 1 (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) in Crumlin hospital to be exceptional and extremely professional in their dealings with us and we really couldn't praise their handling of the situation highly enough," he added.