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Devastating Kerry family recall 'living nightmare' of losing father who died after contracting Covid

'Dad said he could not breathe. He went to ICU and never came home'    

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The late Paul Doyle’s family at Rossbeigh, one of his favourite places

The late Paul Doyle’s family at Rossbeigh, one of his favourite places

The late Paul Doyle’s family at Rossbeigh, one of his favourite places

For the Doyle family from Killorglin, Co Kerry, the past three months have been a "living nightmare".

Covid-19 entered their home and led to the death of their beloved husband and father Paul at just 49 years of age. 

He was not the only one to be hit by the virus: so too were his twin daughters Kayleigh and Emily (20), son Charlie (14) and wife Audrey.

His eldest daughter, Rebecca (28), became seriously ill and can still recall being unable to get out of bed.

Such was the horror of the illness they suffered that Rebecca barely remembers the days after her dad went to hospital. 

Emily was the first in the family to get the virus, and she spent two weeks isolating with Rebecca in her home, although Rebecca did not get it at that time.

Following negative tests, they returned to the family home to visit their parents, believing it was safe to do so after completing isolation.

It was then that their dad became sick, and later nearly the entire family tested positive in the household, with the exception of younger children Hetty (8) and Rebecca's six-year-old daughter Olivia.  

"It was terrible. We were all struck down," Rebecca said.

She was the first in the house to test positive, but the family were all feeling unwell, and in the following days they also tested positive.

"The army van had to come to the house to test me as none of us could drive," she added.

While Rebecca became severely ill, she did not end up in hospital and, for the first few days, she and the entire family were at home, some feeling worse than others.

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Rebecca and her parents would eventually suffer the worst effects.

Rebecca told The Kerryman: "We were just told we were positive and that was it.

"We weren't told what to do or what to drink or anything.

"I was so, so sick. Mom and I were the worst first. I couldn't eat or drink. I was completely struck down."

Then her father became worse in the middle of the night.

It was the first day of Puck Fair, August 10, a day that is traditionally a big one for the town, but not this year due to Covid-19 and not in the Doyle household as they were facing the reality of the illness. 

"Dad just got up and went to the bathroom and just threw himself on the bed, said he couldn't breath.

"He put on his sleep apnoea mask and Mom was talking to him and we rang the ambulance," Rebecca said.

"We had to practically carry him down the stairs.

"We would try and drag him up, and he would just slouch down. We had to stop every two steps."

Aside from sleep apnoea, Paul, who was from Killarney, had double pneumonia 14 years before, although neither of these factors put him on the high-risk category.

However, he was not vaccinated, and was still considering getting the jab. 

Rebecca believes he would have got the jab if he had thought he was high-risk. 

The rest of the family were on the verge of getting vaccinated.

In the days after he went to hospital, the rest of the family remained at home, fighting the virus while Paul battled for his life in University Hospital Kerry in Tralee. 

"We would ring the hospital for updates, but it was more than a week-and-a-half later before we saw him again.

"There was nobody around him and we were all gowned up in plastic. It was terrible, it was a nightmare," Rebecca said.

Paul was later moved out of the Covid intensive care unit ward to regular ICU, where the family were allowed to see him, but he never regained consciousness and died on September 22, seven weeks and a day after he first went to hospital. 

"We didn't know that he wouldn't come home," Rebecca said. "Don't let it get so bad. We didn't know when to get help." 

The Doyle family are now without their husband, father and grandfather, the "heart" of the family.

"He is now gone, and we have to keep going," Rebecca said. She also said her father was "a gas man". 

"He had one of those smiles. He was cheeky, he was the heart of the house."

"He always wanted his family around him, even when we moved out." 

A Go Fund Me appeal is running to help the family.

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