A mother-of-two from Douglas in Cork has been discharged from intensive care after spending a record 79 days on life support being treated for Covid-19.
Doctors believe Mary Sullivan spent longer on a ventilator than any other coronavirus patient in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and enquiries are on-going to establish if she holds the record for Europe.
Today staff in the intensive care unit of the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, who looked after Ms Sullivan, lined the corridor as she was transferred from there to a general ward.
Ms Sullivan was admitted after suffering a heart attack on 11 March and tested positive for Covid-19. She developed respiratory failure and her condition deteriorated, which led to her spending 79 days on life support in the intensive care unit.
Her daughters, Yvonne and Niamh, were by here side today. On many occasions over the past three months, they never thought they would see today.
“It’s surreal. We can’t actually put it into words at this stage,” Yvonne Sullivan told RTÉ News. “It was an emotional rollercoaster.
“You do have to stay positive. Keep having faith in the fantastic medical team that you have and not just the medical team (but) the cleaning teams and every team who are in here who risk their lives every day to look after every patient. It’s phenomenal.
“Keep having faith in them and don’t give up hope.”
A moment mother of two Mary Sullivan and her family from #Douglas #Cork though they would never see: Mary’s discharge from the @BonSecours Hospital ICU after spending a record 79 days on life support being treated for Covid-19. Even off-duty staff came to applaud her. @rtenews pic.twitter.com/6J44ZB5Qma
— Paschal Sheehy (@PaschalSheehy) June 18, 2020
Mary Sullivan said she could not find the words to thank the staff who cared for her during her illness.
“I feel wonderful. Only for ye, this day would never have happened,” she told nurses and other medical staff in the ICU as she was wheeled from the unit in a wheelchair.
“I want ye to be recognised for all ye have done. I do appreciate it.”
Ms Sullivan’s medical team are amazed and delighted at her recovery. She was admitted under the care of cardiologist Dr Conor O’Shea, who described her as “a fighter”.
“She’s a determined lady. She had her first by-pass at 40 years of age, and now she has come through her second by-pass and she has gone through Covid. She is the longest-surviving ventilated Covid patient in the UK and Ireland, and maybe in Europe.
“It’s a phenomenal testament to her determination to get through this – she’s an exceptional lady,” Dr O’Shea said.
A conference call in March between Covid-19 experts in Wuhan, China and doctors here in Ireland was key to saving Ms Sullivan’s life, as well as the lives of many other coronavirus patients in Ireland.
Coincidentally, around the time Ms Sullivan was admitted to hospital, a medical team at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork had organised a presentation from national Chinese Covid experts managing patients in Wuhan.
The medical conference was attended by respiratory, infectious disease and intensive care experts from each of the six national Irish universities and by intensivists from Oxford’s ICU department.
The Chinese experts who, at that stage had more experience of treating patients with coronavirus, shared a 140-page translated covid handbook on how to manage and sub-type various Covid sub-patterns, as well as progression and management strategies for Covid patients both in hospital and in public.
The knowledge and experience offered by the Chinese experts was shared nationally in Ireland in mid-March at a national conference organised by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
“We are exptremely grateful to China for all the aid they have given us here,” said Respiratory Consultant at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, Dr Oisin O’Connell. He was one of the organisers of the conference call with the experts in Wuhan University.
“This highlights the importance of international collaboration and that international collegiality and shared experience. Before any international evidence was available, China were giving us advice on how best to manage these patients.”
Ms Sullivan and her family say they are conscious of the many people who have died from coronavirus, and they say they are in their prayers today.
She says she is looking forward to getting back out in the fresh air and seeing life again.