The parents of toddler Bryan Saba, who died in a blind cord accident, said they were totally unaware of the dangers.
The couple, who had moved to Portadown from Italy, were accustomed to blinds with a single cord, which do not pose a risk, and to the more obvious hazards of verandahs.
Speaking with the assistance of Stephen and Hetty Smith of Craigavon Intercultural Programme (CIP), they told the Portadown Times that the death of their youngest child had left them heartbroken.
Little Bryan had been in the living room of the family home when the accident happened. His older sister had gone into the kitchen, leaving him unattended for a matter of seconds, and returned to find him entangled in the cord and unconscious.
Said Hetty, “They call it a silent death, because the child’s head goes forward and they aren’t able to cry out or give any warning that they are in trouble.”
His father Feliciano, who was at work in Dungannon when it happened, said he felt a “heaviness that he couldn’t explain” and knew instinctively that something was wrong.
Although the ambulance attended within two minutes, Bryan spent a fortnight in intensive care and never regained consciousness.
Said Hetty, “His parents read and sang to him, and they had people everywhere praying for him.”
The couple also prayed hard for guidance before deciding to donate their son’s organs.
Said Maria Jose, “They put him in my arms when they turned off the machine and then the nurse lifted him from me. I gave my son’s organs because I knew he was going to help others.
“The pain is hard to bear. He had a beautiful smile and he captured everyone’s hearts.
“When he was out, he wanted to say hello to everybody.”
The couple had come to Portadown to seek work after Feliciano lost his job as an engineer in a construction firm in Italy. Maria Jose had formerly worked as a journalist in her home country of Guinea Bissau.
Despite what has happened, neither Feliciano nor his wife regret moving to Portadown. “It was the destiny written out for us by God,” said Feliciano.
And the couple’s strong faith has helped sustain them, along with the help of local groups and churches. Said Maria Jose, “We are sitting here today because God is helping us.”
The couple are in the process of looking for another home as they have found it too painful to return to the house where the accident happened.
Bryan’s funeral service was held last Wednesday.