EVEN before he began his crusade against suicide, Donal Walsh was a champion for sick children.
Donal (16), who passed away at his home in Hare Street, Blennerville, Co Kerry, on Sunday night, raised over €50,000 to improve facilities at Crumlin Children's Hospital while still a patient there.
Donal first gave an interview to the Herald last June on the eve of his 16th birthday when he was undergoing treatment for lung cancer in Dublin.
He had to sit his Junior Cert at the family home but his academic results were the least of his worries. The following day, on his birthday, he was due to find out if the gruelling chemotherapy he had had endured over the past four months had worked.
"The exams are not really bothering me, it's more trying to get the treatment over with," Donal said.
Donal had undergone surgery the previous February to remove the lower lobe of one of his lungs after the tumour was discovered. He described these trips to hospital as being like a trip to "hell" but he resolved to do what he could to make things better at St John's Oncology Unit.
"They helped me out by saving my life so I'm trying to help them out as well," he said.
He hoped that plans to build a new oncology ward with en suite bedrooms for teenagers would soon become a reality.
"There's only one toilet for every 18 beds and there's absolutely no privacy. I think there's no reason why the Government can't do something about it."
Over the last few months of his life, Donal devoted his energy to suicide prevention and according to the junior minister with responsibility for mental health, Kathleen Lynch, had done more in his short life than any politician had ever achieved in this regard.
Ms Lynch also paid tribute to Donal's parents Elma and Fionnbar, saying it was clear his "generosity of spirit" had come from them.
Donal was diagnosed with a tumour in his femur when he was 12, which dashed his hopes of every playing rugby for his beloved Munster. But it didn't finish his rugby career or diminish his interest and he became an associate coach, helping out with the underage players.
In October he was told his cancer was terminal and advised to celebrate an early Christmas. He delighted his 14,000 followers on Twitter in May when he tweeted: "They told me have an early Christmas, but I'm after making it from October to the summer."