'I will take it to my own grave that I was never at my mother's funeral': Covid-19 survivor who learned of mother's passing over video call

'I will take it to my own grave that I was never at my mother's funeral': Covid-19 survivor who learned of mother's passing over video call
Ian O'Sullivan with his mother, Mary. Picture: The Neil Prendeville Show

A Cork man who lost his mother to Covid-19 during his own battle with the virus has spoken about how he relives the death of his mother which he learned of over FaceTime.

Ian O’Sullivan who is a full time carer lived with his 83-year-old mother Mary when he was taken to hospital after feeling unwell for 10 days.

Mr O’Sullivan told the Neil Prendeville Show on Red FM that he had begun to experience symptoms back in mid-March and self-medicated in isolation while awaiting his Covid-19 test.

He said that he was exhausted and experienced flu-like symptoms before contacting his doctor.

By day 10, he still had not received a test for the virus and had difficulty breathing.

He said that when he woke up he felt like there was someone sitting on his chest. He was coherent but said that he couldn't catch his breath.

When he contacted his GP he was asked to count to 30 and when he counted as far as three his GP told him that there was “something seriously wrong” and that an ambulance was being sent.

He was told to leave everything behind and only to bring his mobile phone.

He was put in PPE and was transported to the Mercy University Hospital where he became the first patient with coronavirus in the hospital.

He said that he wasn’t well enough to hold a conversation with his mother before he left the house but that he gave her a salute with his eyes and said he would have done things differently if he knew then what he knows now.

Two days after his admission to the Mercy, his mother followed.

They shared the same ward and Mr O’Sullivan’s mother was in the room across the hallway from him but he never saw her again.

After deterioration of his breathing, he was put into an induced coma for 12 days and 12 nights.

He said he became scared when he was moved behind the nurses station because “when you’re there, you're not in great shape because they want to keep an eye on you”.

He said he was “reluctant” about being put into an induced coma because he was told he would be under for at least two weeks.

“My mother was running through my head, I have a nine year old daughter, she was running through my head,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan’s mother passed away on April 2. Four days later on April 6, he was successfully taken out of a coma after an initial unsuccessful attempt where he almost died and learned of his mother’s passing when his sister broke the news to him through his phone screen.

“I relive it quite a bit. It wasn’t a very pleasant time in my life.” 

He couldn’t attend his mother’s funeral, something that he said he will take to his own grave and he said that she left the hospital in an enclosed coffin and nobody saw his mother before she was laid to rest.

“It was a very scary time for my family. I have five sisters and we’re quite close. They had their mother in hospital in not a very good condition, they had their brother in ICU fighting for his life, nobody could contact us, they couldn’t see anybody, there was no information.” 

He said that he now has to deal with the not knowing if he passed the virus onto his mother or not and that it is something that surrounds him every day.

“People think it’s a myth and I guarantee you it’s not,” he said, warning against people not taking the virus seriously as the country defers its entry into phase four of the roadmap to reopening.

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