David Hope Glass is six-years-old, coming seven in March. He has a four-year-old sister called Bella, and, over the last few weeks, David has met, played and bonded with many of his Irish cousins for the first time.
He is healthy, happy, alive.
But when David was born In Australia in 2017, few doctors would have predicted that this day would ever come. For much of his life, the idea of David becoming strong enough to leave the hospital was almost unimaginable. Flying to the other side of the world to visit his Irish family would have been so far-fetched as to be beyond a pipe dream.
But this once unthinkable fantasy has become a reality.
David’s parents, Greencastle native, Liam Glass, and his wife, Cindy, attribute this 21st century miracle to their faith, David’s determination, and, all importantly, organ donation.
“When we look at David out running about, with that other little boy’s heart beating in his chest, giving him life, we feel like we have a second child there too,” said Liam when the UH spoke with him and Cindy earlier this week at the Glass’ ‘home house’ in Mullydoo, Greencastle.
They had been in Ireland for five weeks and were due to board a plane back to sunny Adelaide, Australia the following night. However, before they waved a bittersweet goodbye to their friends and family for another while, they wanted to tell us how organ donation saved their baby boy’s life.
“David was born with a heart with two chambers – rather than four – and one was seriously underdeveloped,” said Liam. “As well as that, he had a raft of other medical complications.
“The day he was born, the doctors told us that things looked very bleak. That he might not live a day, never mind a week or a month.”
Calling David a ‘miracle baby’ does not quite capture the sheer number of nearly insurmountable hurdles that he has had to clear in order to survive.
David has been through six open-heart surgeries, one of which was a heart transplant, and, along the way, he has overcome a number of serious medical blunders, including a morphine overdose and being fitted with a faulty pacemaker.
“We nearly lost David many, many times over the years, and, in fact, even before he was born, his first challenge was thrown before him when the doctors advised us that, because of the probable medical difficulties suggested by the antenatal scans, we should consider a termination,” began Liam.
However, Liam and Cindy decided that they wanted to allow the pregnancy to go ahead.
“We had faith,” said Liam, “and we named him David Hope for a damn good reason. Obviously, we are very happy that we did and, although we cannot tell anyone else what decision is right for them, all I can say is that I do not think we could not have stood by our decision if we had decided to have an abortion.”
Cindy described – in more detail than this space affords – the years that followed David’s birth. His early life was often lived in hospitals, marred by sickness and frailty, the prospect of another operation never truly disappearing from the immediate horizon.
Then, in 2019, aged three, a cardiologist told Liam and Cindy that the heart David was born with could not go on beating much longer. They were put on a transplant list.
Cindy said, “In April of 2019, David went into heart failure. He went to stage four. That means you are going to die.
“In June, David was called for a transplant. He was lucky that when a heart became available he was healthy enough to accept it.”
On the day of the operation, explained Cindy and Liam, David almost bounced out of bed, told them he was ready for his new heart, grabbed his jacket and got ready to go.
“When he met the surgeon,” said Cindy, laughing, David said to him, “’I’ve been waiting for you!’”
He was signing a song from Spongebob, ‘I’m Ready for Promotion’.
A month later, Liam and Cindy were saying thank you to the people who helped save their son’s life, as David was discharged from the hospital, his new heart beating steadily in his chest.
It took some time, but David, who before his transplant could not walk or talk with any significant degree of fluency, began putting sentences together, and grew strong and fit enough to run around and play with other children.
“It is not all that long ago,” said Cindy, “that David was so sick, so weak; he was blue, and his little face was like a scrunched up piece of paper. So to see him out running around the garden playing with his cousins… it’s unbelievable.”
The pair agree that they have been on a ‘challenging journey’, but one that they now see as good.
“It is about turning a ‘mess’ into a ‘message’,” said Cindy. Their message is one of faith and organ donation.
“Without the donor,” said Cindy, “we wouldn’t be able to travel here today, to see all of you and spend time in Ireland.”
Recently, Liam’s cousin, Omagh hairdresser, Margaret McCrory donated one of her kidneys to someone she may never meet.
“David got a second chance and he is making the most of it,” said Cindy. “We are very grateful to our donor, and we urge people to become donors themselves. It just might save another person’s life.”
Concluding, the couple thanked everyone who ever said a prayer, spared a thought or shed a tear for David, and they asked everyone to support those around them.
“Have hope and faith. Supporting each other. Holding one and other up. These small things make a big difference.”
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