NI Vet speaks from hospital bed to remind others Covid-19 is not over

A veterinarian from Ballygowan is warning others of the dangers of Covid-19 and reminding them that the pandemic is far from over.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 5:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 5:44 pm

Simon Doherty has been in hospital since October battling Covid-19, and credits a phone call to a friend and colleague for potentially saving his life.

Simon, who is currently based at the School of Biological Sciences/Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, described himself as a “relatively healthy 46-year-old with no significant underlying health issues”.

“I am double-vaccinated and have been careful with mask-wearing, hand-washing and reducing my ‘contact risks’ as far as possible,” he told the Farming Life.

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Simon is pictured wearing the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) oxygen therapy mask.

“We don’t, as yet, fully understand how or why this virus affects some people worse than others.

“So, please, everyone, continue to be as safe as you can,” he urged.

It was a Saturday night in October when the Ballygowan vet began feeling unwell at home.

He rang his colleague, Daniella Dos Santos, a fellow past-president of the British Veterinary Association, to ask her advice.

Simon is currently based at the School of Biological Sciences / Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast.

“I knew she had had Covid-19 previously, and I remember calling her to talk to her about going through the clinical experience,” Simon continued.

“She ended up calling an ambulance for me from England.

“I was completely out of it and she recognised that and called the ambulance before getting hold of my sister, who also lives in England, through Facebook.”

His sister then raised the alarm with some of Simon’s family who live locally.

Simon Doherty.

He added: “The phone call with Daniella possibly saved my life.”

It was a week into his hospital stay when the lowest point came for Simon, with medical staff considering placing him into an induced coma in the ICU.

While that, thankfully, did not happen, it has still been a very long road to recovery.

“I have been in hospital for 17 days now. The recovery is slow.

Simon after he was named president of the British Veterinary Association in September 2018. Included is senior vice-president, John Fishwick, and junior vice-president, Daniella Dos Santos, who called the ambulance for Simon.

“I’ve now had a CT and my lungs are clear of any blood clots.”

“I’ve also had a number of tests, including ECGs and an echocardiogram earlier this week on my heart.

“It seems to be OK.

“Now, I’m looking forward to, hopefully, getting home this week, if I can get weaned off the oxygen.”

Simon has been updating his family and friends on his progress via his Facebook page.

In one recent post, he said: “I’ve been struggling with my oxygen in the last 24 hours - it’s been turned back up and I’ll be back on the CPAP mask overnight tonight, which is a bit of a shame.

“It feels like some of the progress has unravelled a little bit and my departure has probably been delayed another few days.

“I know I’m in the right place - these people are amazing - but I really want to get home now.”

Now, Simon is firmly focussed on being discharged from the ward to continue his recovery from Covid-19 at home.

He has praised the “amazing” medical staff who have been caring for him, including medical, nursing, physio and support workers at Ward 3A in the Ulster Hospital, as well as the paramedics who brought him to hospital.