Northern Ireland

Gareth Anderson dies of liver failure in Ulster Hospital

Gareth Anderson
Image caption A recent picture of Gareth Anderson taken before his death

The father of a young man who died from liver failure said he did everything he could to try to help his son.

Gareth Anderson died on 4 June almost three years after he was first admitted to Dundonald Hospital with liver problems after binge drinking with friends in September 2009.

He was transferred to London and later returned to Northern Ireland where he was making good progress.

His father Brian said despite efforts his son had been drinking again.

The teenager became ill after returning home and was taken to the Ulster Hospital where doctors said his liver had failed.

While he was recovering, he thought it would be good if his son had a focus when he left hospital so asked Gareth what he wanted to do when he was well enough to leave.

He told his father that he wanted to work in a pet shop so his father opened a shop in their hometown of Newtownards.

"He loved animals as a teenager," said Brian.

"I remember he worked in a pet shop as a teenager and spent more time there than at school.

"If Gareth got his wages on a Friday, he would spend them buying flowers for his mother and grandmother.

"That was his attitude, he thought of everyone before himself."

Brian said it was a great chance for "both of us" to work together but it "wasn't enough".


Gareth began drinking again in October 2010 and also started getting into trouble.

Brian said his son "changed as a person".

"I told him, 'I can help you, but I can't help you until you help yourself'," he said.

Gareth was admitted to a five-week detox programme at Downpatrick Hospital but it failed to stop him drinking.

His father believes the final straw was a recent fallout his son had had with a friend.

"I believe that was what tipped him over the edge," he said.

"He went and bought several bottles of vodka and drank them.

"His liver couldn't cope and he died of liver failure in the Ulster Hospital."

Brian said teenagers nowadays seemed to drink more than they did when he was young.

"Moderation is a great word," he said.

"Everything in moderation, particularly drink."

Gareth's father said he had been comforted by the support he had received from people in the town who had been dropping into the shop to pay their respects.

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