Sunday 25 February 2018

'The greatest gift' - Schoolboy killed in crash gave 'new life' to three others with organ donation

Daniel O'Keeffe's funeral. Picture: INM
Daniel O'Keeffe's funeral. Picture: INM

Alan O'Keeffe

Tragic schoolboy Daniel O'Keeffe gave "new life" to three people when his organs were donated after his death, said a priest at his funeral today.

Little Daniel (7) died of his injuries on Monday which he suffered in a horrific road crash on January 12 that claimed the life of his young mother Emma O'Keeffe.

He died at Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin where medical staff battled to save his life.

His small white coffin was carried into the small country church at Kilberry, County Meath, today where throngs of local people attended his Requiem Mass.

Emma O'Keeffe
Emma O'Keeffe

His mother Emma (26) died the day after the crash which happened when her car collided with a lorry on the Nobber to Kingscourt Road in County Meath. She lived with her husband Robin O'Keeffe and their three sons in nearby Coghalstown, Wilkinstown, Navan, Co. Meath.

Daniel's little brother Logan was also injured in the collision.

Her remains were brought to the same church, the Church of St John the Baptist, for Requiem Mass Last Monday.

The grieving family returned to the church today to bid a heart-rending farewell to Daniel.

His little brother Adam (5) carried a framed photograph of his beloved big brother as the small white coffin was carried down the aisle. Adam sat on his father's knee during the funeral Mass.

Parish priest Fr John O'Brien said: "Daniel had a very short life but he lived it to the full and he touched so many lives.

"It reminds us that the greatest gift we can give anybody is the gift of life. And so, even in death, Daniel's generosity knows no bounds because of him, because of his family, and it can't have been easy for them, three people are experiencing new life as a result of Daniel giving his organs so that others could live.

"What a wonderful gift and blessing that is and it is truly something to be very proud of on this very sad occasion," he said.

Fr O'Brien, assisted by four priests at the Mass,  said the funeral was a chance to mourn the death of "a beautiful child" and to celebrate his "all too short life."

He said his mother Emma was waiting "to welcome her child into her arms" in heaven.

"Daniel was a most loveable and affectionate child. He loved going to school. He was eager to learn and loved his friends at school.

"He was a very popular child with both teachers and friends. He adored his dad Robin and his mum Emma, who is now in heaven with him. He also loved his younger brothers Adam and Logan and always looked out for them," he said.

He said Daniel was a Manchester United and Dublin GAA fan.

"He took great delight going into school one Monday morning after Dublin had won their recent All-Ireland and got great pleasure in slagging Ms O'Donoghue because she's a Kerry supporter.

"It was the first thing in his mind to remind her that the Dubs were top of the pile," he said.

He also loved running and won a medal as a member of Navan Athletic Club. He loved tennis and horse-riding.  He loved singing and dancing at home and his favourite song was 'Hold Back The River.'

His classmates from first class in Wilkinstown national school sang 'Hold Back The River' as his little coffin was brought out of the church.

Among the gifts brought to the altar were his horse-riding equipment,  his art works from school, lego bricks, and a dinosaur.

A bouquet of 29 red roses represented his 29 classmates and the bouquet contained one white rose to represent Daniel.

A statement issued earlier by Scoil Naomh Barra declared "As a school community we will greatly feel the loss of Daniel and miss his quiet gentle presence among us.

"We will always cherish the many happy memories we hold of him."

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