Mother who spent 190 days in hospital with Covid urges public to get vaccine

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Mother Who Spent 190 Days In Hospital With Covid Urges Public To Get Vaccine Mother Who Spent 190 Days In Hospital With Covid Urges Public To Get Vaccine
Jackie Sheehan (left) and her mother, Mary Fitzgerald (right) pictured in the gymnasium in University Hospital Limerick in April as both were fighting off the effects of Covid. Photo: UL Hospitals Group.
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David Raleigh

A young mother who was given just days to live after being struck down with Covid-19 has warned others to get fully vaccinated to help curb the spread of the virus.

Jackie Sheehan (47) was floored by the virus in early January this year and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Despite suffering respiratory failure and double pneumonia, as well as life-threatening blood infection, sepsis, the mother-of-three rallied through after 190 days in hospital.

“It’s so, so serious. I mean, there are people who think this isn’t real, and I think a trip to ICU would definitely open their eyes,” said Ms Sheehan, from Croom, Co Limerick.

Ms Sheehan said her sudden hospitalisation was “devastating” for her husband, Pat and their three daughters; Sarah, Lisa, and Ciara.

'Miracle'

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“Visiting was very restricted but during some of my most critical times my husband was let in to visit. The family were told at one stage on a Thursday in the middle of March that if I was still there on the Saturday it would be a miracle, but I’m here to tell the tale.”

“I would definitely urge people to get the vaccine. Anyone who isn’t vaccinated won’t be coming anywhere near me, anyway and that’s a fact, because I’m lucky to be here,” she added.

Ms Sheehan became well enough to leave critical care at the end of April and was eventually discharged from UHL last May, however, her battle against long-Covid was far from over.

Two months of intense rehabilitation at St Ita’s Hospital, Newcastle-West followed and she was eventually discharged on July 15th, a full 190 days after her initial admission to UHL.

“My body, my brain, everything is ready, except for my lungs,” Ms Sheehan said, adding she continues to face “a long recovery” and will need ongoing physiotherapy for her lungs.

It was only when she was discharged from UHL that she discovered her mother, Mary Fitzgerald, had also caught the virus and was admitted to the hospital’s High Dependency Unit (HDU).

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You can imagine my surprise when I discovered she had been in the same hospital as me when I was so seriously ill.

“Mam was in and out of hospital over this same time. She’d had a serious illness the previous January, and then this year she got Covid-19 and has been battling since with chest infections. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered she had been in the same hospital as me when I was so seriously ill,” Ms Sheehan said.

After five moths apart, mother and daughter got within almost touching distance in early May, but still had to keep two meters apart in UHL’s gymnasium. It was a bittersweet moment for the two women, who had survived the virus, but were still battling its after-effects.

“Oh my God, it was unbelievable…unbelievable, I wouldn’t be able to put it into words, it was just fantastic. It would have been huge for mam as well,” Ms Sheehan said.

“During the time I was sick, and mam wasn’t sick, she still wasn’t allowed to visit me because she was in the ‘high risk’ category. So even though my family was told that I was not expected to survive, mam still wasn’t able to come in to see me,” she added.

Having since been reunited, Ms Sheehan said they were "thrilled" and there were "tears of joy" after being separated for so long.

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