‘The scariest experience of my life’

A YOUNG mother-to-be has described her battle with Covid-19 as “the scariest experience” of her life.

Aoife McGrath (25) from Sion Mills, presented to Altnagelvin Hospital back a number of weeks ago when her condition deteriorated drastically, after contracting the virus.

Describing how she could barely take more than a few steps without becoming breathless, Aoife eventually developed pneumonia in both lungs and was put into a high dependency unit.


Knowing she was pregnant at the time, she had not been vaccinated.

“There is nothing worse than the feeling of drowning, that you can’t breath,” she recalled. “My air in-take wasn’t reaching the bottom of my lungs. It was so scary.

“This was the scariest experience of my life and what made it worse was that I couldn’t have anyone with me throughout my hospital stay. Anyone who knows me knows how anxious I was, I didn’t only have me to worry about myself but my baby also.”

Thankfully, following a long month battling coronavirus, Aoife is currently on the mend.

However such was the horrific nature of the experience, she  is urging anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to avail of the jab.

“I caught Covid in July and like most people, I had mild symptoms for the first few days and was doing OK; the worst part was the isolation in that great weather we had,” Aoife explained. “Then on the Wednesday evening before my isolation was due to be over I became extremely breathless and could only walk a few steps before having to stop and catch my breath, as I felt my lungs were closing. I suffered at home for six days before giving in to go to the hospital to be checked out.”

Upon arrival at Altnagelvin, a number of tests were carried out and the mum-to-be was administered with high levels of oxygen.

“At 25-years-old and needing a catheter fitted this had shown me then how sick I actually was,” Aoife continued. “I was that sick at times, that I couldn’t even think about being pregnant. I was just unaware of how badly I would be affected.

“I didn’t think  my life was in danger. I thought that being in hospital I’ll be safe and they’d help me. But the doctors told me afterwards that they were worried for my life when I was admitted.”

Aoife would spend five nights in hospital although she wasn’t admitted to intensive care because she had responded well to the oxygen. And yet, she now appreciates how lucky she was.

“It was horrendous. It took that experience to show me that Covid is a lot worse than any vaccine could be. I still haven’t returned to work because I’m not fit. If I’m walking to the shop I have to stop because I still get breathless. But I’m definitely getting there. Each day is making me stronger. But the doctors have said it will take a while yet for my own body to recover.”

Urging other young people to take heed of the dangers the coronavirus poses, Aoife added, “Nothing is worse than getting the virus. Whatever madness people are saying about getting the vaccines… that you don’t know what you’re putting into your body… nothing could be worse than what I went through.

“I, like a lot of people before my experience of actually having Covid, thought, ‘I will be grand, sure I’m only young’. I was so wrong. Thankfully my outcome was good and my lungs responded well and I got home for care with my family. But others have not been as lucky as me.

“Please, please get your vaccines folks. I too was skeptical.

“I’ve been told that 99 per-cent of people who are in ICU at the minute are people who haven’t been vaccinated.”

Aoife concluded, “Definitely, once I can have my vaccine, I’ll be getting it.”


Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 4 Castle Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AB