Family anguish: We couldn’t save our son

They were planning to celebrate his second birthday today. But instead, the parents of a toddler who died after falling from an upstairs window at the family home were last night preparing for his funeral.

Family anguish: We couldn’t save our son

Little Vakaris Martinaitis died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on Wednesday from injuries sustained in the fall at the family home in the Castleredmond estate, just outside Midleton in Co Cork, on Monday.

His parents, Vidas and his wife, Aukse, also have an 8-year-old daughter, Agneta, who is to receive her First Holy Communion next weekend. They have not told her yet that her brother has died, unable to find the words to break it to her.

Despite their anguish, they said they are drawing some comfort from consenting to organ donation.

“I couldn’t save my child but I will be happy if this saves somebody else,” Vidas said, fighting back tears.

He believes at least four children — two in Ireland and two in Britain — have benefited from transplants arising from little Vakaris’s death.

Vidas and Aukse, both Lithuanian, have been living in Ireland for nine years. Vidas is a stay-at-home dad while Aukse works in a local nursing home.

Vidas was downstairs in the family home in The Paddocks area of the estate on Monday when Vakaris apparently fell from an upstairs window before lunchtime.

Neighbour Kevin Hennessy, the former Cork hurling star who lives a few doors away, saw a distressed Vidas standing over his injured son, and rushed to help.

He said when they phoned for an ambulance, they were told there was none in the area. He said the operator advised them to take the child to the local SouthDoc outlet.

Mr Hennessy drove Vidas and his son to SouthDoc where they were then told to take the boy to CUH.

Mr Hennessy contacted gardaí, who arranged an escort to get him through city centre traffic quickly.

They arrived at CUH but tragically Vakaris lost his fight for life on Wednesday evening.

Vidas said he spent every day of the last two years with his only son.

“He was my boy. I had a great connection with him. Two years of happiness, and now we are suffering. And the pain for my wife. It’s such a short time — only two years.

“I was dreaming that when he’d grow up we’d be surfing, play basketball, go fishing — all kinds of things with me.

“He was a special boy, he was always laughing and smiling. He’d wake up in the morning, he’d give me a hug, he was always laughing, he had a good heart.

“If I asked him to do anything, he’d do it.”

He declined to comment specifically on the ambulance issue.

“We were told there was no ambulance and to go to SouthDoc, and then to go to hospital. Is this a good thing or not? I let the people decide.”

He expressed his heartfelt thanks to Mr Hennessy.

“If he wasn’t there, I don’t know what I would have done,” he said.

He also thanked gardaí and the medical staff at CUH.

Vakaris’s remains were removed to Farrell’s funeral home in Midleton last night, with the funeral service planned for Monday.

Review launched as ambulance ‘was available’

The HSE said last night that an emergency ambulance was “immediately available” to respond to help little Vakaris Martinaitis, and it has launched a formal review into the management of a 999 call to establish why an ambulance was not sent to the incident.

Neighbour and former hurling star Kevin Hennessy insists he was told during the 999 call that there was no ambulance available. He used his own car to rush Vakaris and his father, Vidas, to SouthDoc, before driving them to Cork University Hospital, where the toddler died two days later.

In a statement last night, the HSE said following a preliminary examination of the facts, the director of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), Robert Morton, has commissioned a formal incident review into the manner in which the 999 call received from Midleton at 2pm last Monday was managed.

“A preliminary examination of the facts has confirmed that an emergency ambulance was immediately available to respond to the call,” the HSE said.

“In order to fully establish all the facts surrounding the management of the call, including why the ambulance was not made available, the formal review has been established.”

The team will include experts in pre-hospital emergency care and primary care from Ireland and the UK. A representative will liaise with the family.

“The NAS would like to reassure the public that reports of a reduction of emergency cover in the area are incorrect,” said the spokesperson. “The reorganisation of the ambulance service in the region has seen an approximate increase of 11% of rostered man hours in the area in the last 12 months.”

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