Returning home from hospital after four months of treatment, a Derry man who survived Covid-19 is warning people to take the virus seriously.
Neil McCafferty is a father-of-five with seven grandchildren whose socially distanced, but emotional welcome home felt like a miracle.
“Last time I felt this way was 45 years ago when we married,” he told UTV, safely back home and sitting with wife Bridie.
“It’s like getting another chance.”
Things had looked very bleak at times for the 67-year-old who was first taken to Altnagelvin Hospital with a gallbladder infection.
Neil, who also has an underlying heart condition and diabetes, developed sepsis and then tested positive for Covid while in hospital, ending up in intensive care - twice.
Thankful to be home, he paid tribute to the medical staff he says “have a calling” and are knowingly putting themselves and their families at risk to help others.
“They are angels,” Neil said.
His story is now one of hope, but the warning is clear.
As Neil’s wife said, talking about their family experiencing a sense of “survivors’ guilt”: “He’s sitting here now, but there’s a lot of other people who have lost their loved ones.”
And in expressing his gratitude to those who turned out to welcome him home, Neil fervently thanked them for social distancing and wearing masks.
“That’s the message we all need – this disease is a killer,” he said.
“And if I’ve been spared, it’s to put that message out.”