health battle | 

Man (35) in hospital for over a year with Covid complications told he ‘wasn’t going to make it’

Dubliner Darren O’Connor (35) caught Covid last October and had “very limited symptoms”.

Darren O'Connor and right, in hospital

Darren and his friend's on Eoin's wedding day

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The friends of a young man who has been in hospital for a year with Covid complications are planning to walk from Galway to Dublin to pay for his medical bills.

Dubliner Darren O’Connor (35) caught Covid last October and had “very limited symptoms”.

After his isolation period finished, he went to his GP with a high temperature and low blood pressure.

The GP sent him to A&E, where it was suspected that he had a viral infection, and just a few days later his immune system shut down completely and he went into a coma.

He was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory disease, a rare post-Covid disease with a high mortality rate in adults.

Darren has been in Beaumont Hospital ever since, and his pals are now rallying together to help pay for his treatment.

Five of his “lifelong friends” plan to make the journey from Galway to Dublin on foot and have set up a GoFundMe page to kickstart the fundraiser.

Speaking to the Sunday World about the idea, Eoin McMahon explained: “I said to the lads that we’d have to raise some money for him but it needs to be something big. I said, ‘How about we walk from Galway to Dublin?’ and then we decided that our group of friends would do it.

“We’re leaving on May 28 and arriving back to Dublin on June 3. We said we’d get the GoFundMe started early and the response so far has been amazing”.

He opened up about the “dreadful” few weeks his friend group, along with Darren’s wife Sam, had after Darren was first admitted to hospital.

“He told me they were bringing him to ICU and two days later he went into respiratory arrest and went on full life support.

“He couldn’t breathe and he was on dialysis as his kidneys weren’t working. His body was just shutting down. He was constantly spiking in temperatures.

“We got a call saying he wasn’t going to make it and they told all the family to come up (to the hospital).

“That evening, Sam had texted me to say he was okay. But the next four weeks we were hearing, ‘He’s not going to make it.’ It was so frightening. Covid was still rampant so we couldn’t go to the hospital to see him. It was horrendous.

He continued: “The next few weeks were very touch and go, particularly the first week. He had infections and developed sepsis, so his temperature kept spiking. It was really scary.

“He was on 23 antibiotics at that stage because they didn’t know what was going to work. The doctors didn’t really know what was going on because it was obviously a very rare complication of Covid. It’s very rare in adults.

“At one stage, they told Sam that it was likely to be a mourning period. They didn’t think he would improve”.

Darren and his friend's on Eoin's wedding day

Eoin said that while Darren’s condition has improved significantly since then, there are still difficult days.

“Slowly he did wake up. He’s now at a stage where you’d go in and talk to him and you’d get a little smile off him, which is great in one sense but pretty awful in another.

“There’s good days and bad days. There are days when you’d go in and you tell him some jokes and he’d be smiling at you and then there are days when he doesn’t look like he has any interest in engaging with you at all.

“One day I started telling dad jokes and he was kind of smirking at me and when I stopped, he kind of grimaced as if to tell me to keep telling them. He really enjoyed that.”

Darren is now waiting to be admitted to the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s spinal ward, where his friends and family are “hoping they can work a miracle”.

“At one stage they said that he wouldn’t be able to move but he can now move his head maybe six inches and he can use his eyes. They think he will never breathe without a tracheostomy. But at the minute it’s just wait and see how it goes,” Eoin said.

Eoin admitted that seeing his pal in hospital has been “very difficult” for him and his friends, but they’re beyond grateful that Darren is still alive.

“It’s very strange and dreadful. It’s an awful hand that he’s been dealt. It’s appalling.

“He was such a funny guy. He always made everyone laugh and he was just a great guy to be around. It’s awful that this has happened.

“It’s been very difficult for all the group. It’s hard to get your head around it. It’s almost like he’s dead but he isn’t.

“Although it feels like he’s gone, I’m very grateful that he isn’t. We’re very lucky that he’s still here at all. We’re lucky that he’s here but it’s the worst thing in the world that he’s not there,” he added.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the Walking from Galway to Dublin for Darren fundraiser can do so here.

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