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Triple celebrations: Máirtín Mac Gabhann welcomes twins & is awarded UU Postgrad Student of the Year

University Provost Cathy Gormley-Heenan presents the Ulster University's Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year award to Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast. Young Dáithí walked on stage with his Dad.

University Provost Cathy Gormley-Heenan presents the Ulster University's Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year award to Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast. Young Dáithí walked on stage with his Dad.


As winter graduations take place across Ulster University (UU) campuses this week, Máirtín Mac Gabhann, also known as ‘Daithi’s Dad’ is celebrating a week filled with remarkable achievements as he welcomes new-born twins and is crowned Ulster University’s Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year 2023.

Máirtín from Ballymurphy West Belfast began his studies in September 2022 while he has been tirelessly campaigning on behalf of his son, Dáithí, who has courageously been battling Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) since birth. With the left side of Dáithí's heart not forming correctly, he has been on the organ transplant waiting list for an astonishing 2,000 days.



University Provost Cathy Gormley-Heenan presents the Ulster University's Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year award to Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast. Pictured holding his Dad’s award is young Dáithí.

University Provost Cathy Gormley-Heenan presents the Ulster University's Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year award to Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast. Pictured holding his Dad’s award is young Dáithí.


Máirtín said:


"I am truly honoured to receive the Ulster University Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year 2023 Award. Being a student here has been an incredible journey, and I'm immensely proud of how the course has helped me lead the Donate4Dáithí campaign in raising awareness of organ donation and the introduction of Dáithí's Law.

“This recognition is not just mine but a testament to the support of my family—Seph and our children, Dáithí, Cairbre, Declan, and Pádraig. Their strength fuels my commitment, and together, we've achieved positive change, turning our personal challenges into such a positive. I'm grateful for the experience at Ulster University so far, and to the lecturers for all their support.”


Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast, with son Dáithí.

Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast, with son Dáithí.


Leveraging his expertise in PR and communications, Máirtín orchestrated an exceptionally well-managed media campaign ‘Donate4Daithi’ to raise awareness about organ donation.


Incredibly over 10% of Northern Ireland’s population responded to his call to join the NHS organ donation register as he created hope for those awaiting a transplant.

During this time, Máirtín relentlessly powered strategic marketing techniques to advocate for changes to Northern Ireland’s organ donation legislation, now recognised as ‘Daithi’s Law’ which came into effect in June 2023.



Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast, with son Dáithí.

This change is an extraordinary step forward as organ donation changed to an opt-out basis within Northern Ireland, meaning that most adults are now considered potential organ donors which will dramatically help increase the current number of organs available to people in need of a transplant.

Throughout the campaign, Máirtín emerged as a recognisable face with an eloquent and persuasive voice in the media, keeping Dáithí as the central focus to highlight how legislative change would benefit both him and others in his position.



Máirtín has proven to complete the taught elements of the Masters while juggling the rigours of running the campaign with the practical and emotional toll of caring for his son.


Máirtín Mac Gabhann at the Ulster University Winter Graduation Ceremony at the ICC, Belfast, with son Dáithí.

Ulster University’s Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year 2023 will add to Máirtín’s accomplishments of Gold Award in Public Affairs at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations PRide Awards in October 2023, while Dáithí has been granted the freedom of Belfast and the Prime Minister’s Point of Light award.

Ulster University extend their greatest congratulations to Máirtín as he collects the Convocation Postgraduate Student of the Year 2023 Award this year.

If you are interested in studying Communications and Public Relations, visit Communication Management and Public Relations BSc (Hons) at Ulster University 2023/24 entry - Part-time Undergraduate Study in Belfast

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