‘We should have listened to our son about Covid vaccination’

Garry O'Donnell felt helpless at being unable to visit his wife in hospital when she fell seriously ill with coronavirus.

‘We should have listened to our son about Covid vaccination’ STV News
Garry and Catherine with their grandchildren.

Garry O’Donnell is relieved that his wife Catherine is back at home – after she spent almost a month in hospital with Covid.

The 62-year-old was admitted to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on December 3, five days after falling ill with the virus.

Her treatment included seven days on a ventilator in an intensive care unit.

She never made it home for Christmas, which is also her son’s birthday, but was back with her family in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, just before Hogmanay.

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Garry and Catherine, who have three sons and two grandchildren, are both unvaccinated, which they now deeply regret.

“It’s just stupidity really, to be honest with you,” Garry told STV News.

“We’ve never been anti-vaxxers or anything like that, it’s really just ‘we’ll get it (the vaccine) but we’ll get it later on.”

Catherine, who works on a supermarket checkout, has no known underlying health conditions but one of her sons had the virus a few weeks before she did and recovered after a few days.  

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Garry said: “We thought it would just be like a really bad cold and she would get over it within a few days but obviously that wasn’t the case. It got that severe that we had to call a doctor and they blue-lighted her to hospital, so that’s how bad it was at that stage, that was only after five days after knowing she had it.

“We actually spoke to a nurse and she said ‘there’s nobody in there (the hospital ward) who has been vaccinated’. Everyone in that ward was unvaccinated and that kind of hit home as well.

“If only we had done it, Catherine might not have been there. She might have been unwell but she wouldn’t have been as seriously unwell as she was.

“The doctors and nurses, we can’t thank them enough, we owe them everything. She’s been home for just over a week now, still very, very weak. That alone is scary and frightening but she’s going in the right direction and that’s the main thing and we’re so lucky to have that chance.”

Garry shared the family’s story on the same day that a new report suggested around six in ten hospital patients with coronavirus are being admitted because of the virus.

The other 40% are being treated for other conditions but then testing positive for Covid-19.

Public Health Scotland‘s analysis looked at the number of people admitted to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Grampian hospitals over the festive period.

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The figure is lower than the 68% of patients in hospital because of their Covid-19 infection between March and August last year, with the Delta variant the dominant strain during that time.

Garry says he and Catherine will now both get their vaccines as soon as possible, adding that he felt helpless at being unable to comfort his wife in hospital.

“They did allow us to see her, albeit it through a window and she was in a room on her own,” he said.

“But even just to be that wee bit closer to her helped to be honest with you. But not being able to hold her hand or reassure her, that was absolutely devastating, the worst thing ever.

“I’m going to get the vaccine as soon as I can and as soon as I know Catherine’s well enough she’ll be getting it as well.

“My youngest son, he’s had all his vaccines and his booster, he’s took this serious from day one and we should have listened to him.”