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Ruairi McDonald (pronounced Rory) was the son of Steve McDonald and Michelle Connor. Ruairi was born prematurely at just 23 weeks, and because he was still heavily underdeveloped, it was unlikely he would survive. He was pronounced dead moments after his birth, to his parents' intense grief.

Michelle struggled to cope with Ruairi's death while Steve concealed his grief. Michelle mistook Steve's behaviour for nonchalance and kicked him out until Steve's mother Liz who told her about her daughter Katie. Liz told Michelle that it was more important than ever for her and Steve to remain strong as a couple.

Although Michelle let Steve back in, she was still overwhelmed with grief and contemplated suicide by jumping off a bridge. Robert Preston arrived in the nick of time and talked her out of it, taking her to the chapel of rest where Ruairi's funeral was due to take place the next day. Ruairi's parents said their final goodbyes at his funeral and later collected his ashes which they scattered into the ocean.

At the time, Leanne Battersby was pregnant with Steve's child, conceived after an ill-advised one-night stand while Steve and Michelle were separated, which Michelle was oblivious to. After Leanne gave birth to Oliver, Steve's secret was finally revealed at Nick's Bistro, which was hosting a party celebrating the birth. Michelle broke down in the back room and hit Leanne in the face, wishing Oliver dead instead of Ruairi.