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Tears as boy who gave gift of life laid to rest

THE parents of a toddler who died after falling from an upstairs window of his home wept as a priest praised them for selflessly offering "the gift of life" to four other children.

Vidas and Aukse Martinaitis donated the organs of their toddler son Vakaris, who died just 72 hours before his second birthday last week.

Four children – two in Ireland and two in Britain – subsequently received transplants.

Vidas and Aukse were embraced after the Mass of the Angels for their son by former All-Ireland hurling star Kevin Hennessy, who had driven Vakaris to hospital on the May bank holiday Monday in a desperate bid to save the toddler's life.

Mr Hennessy is a neighbour of the Martinaitis family in the Paddocks estate in Castleredmond, near Midleton, Co Cork.

He came across Vidas as he was desperately trying to help his son who had fallen from an upstairs window while playing.



Yesterday, more than 200 people from the Irish, Polish, Brazilian, Lithuanian and African communities gathered at the Church of the Holy Rosary in Midleton to support Vidas, Aukse and their daughter, Agneta (8). Vakaris's coffin arrived at the church covered with the toddler's two favourite cuddly toys, both dogs, a teddy bear cross and a blue balloon.

"Vidas and Aukse are a shining example of Christ-like love and compassion," Fr Marek Pecak told mourners.

"When they had lost their darling Vakaris, they wanted his short but beautiful life to have a profound effect.

"They have done this in a very beautiful and generous way by donating his organs so that other children may have a much improved quality and length of life."

Vidas and Aukse said they will "never forget the kindness shown to us by everyone" but particularly Mr Hennessy and their Midleton friends.



Meanwhile, more than 100 people, including mothers and children, staged a protest outside the Midleton constituency clinic of Fine Gael TD, David Stanton.

The protest was organised in the wake of investigations being ordered by Health Minister Dr James Reilly, the National Ambulance Service and the Health Service Executive into why those trying to help the stricken toddler on May 6 were informed no ambulance was available.

It has since transpired that an ambulance was available, some 18 minutes away.