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Northern Ireland man beats coronavirus to see first grandson being born


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Geoffrey McKillop applauds nurses as he leaves Causeway Hospital ICU

Geoffrey McKillop applauds nurses as he leaves Causeway Hospital ICU

Geoffrey McKillop leaves Causeway Hospital ICU

Geoffrey McKillop leaves Causeway Hospital ICU

Geoffrey McKillop's son Mark and girlfriend Emma with new arrival Alexander

Geoffrey McKillop's son Mark and girlfriend Emma with new arrival Alexander

Geoffrey McKillop's sister Ann McClelland

Geoffrey McKillop's sister Ann McClelland

Geoffrey McKillop applauds nurses as he leaves Causeway Hospital ICU

Anne McClelland got the phone call she had been dreading.

Her brother Geoffrey McKillop (56) was on a ventilator in intensive care at Causeway Hospital. The doctors had exhausted all treatment.

Geoffrey, a well-known businessman in Bushmills, Co Antrim, had a matter of hours to live. The next phone call was likely to be confirming his battle to beat Covid-19 had been lost.

"I spent the night waiting for the call that he was gone," said Anne, a staff nurse at the Coleraine hospital who knew only too well the fight he had on his hands.

"We were helpless at that stage. There seemed nothing more anyone could do."

All the more reason why the family is celebrating today.

And not only did the miracle happen, Geoffrey also recovered to the news that while he lay in intensive care on a ventilator, his first grandson had been born.

From imminent death to the joy of new life, the family have experienced every emotion possible in the last few weeks.

And as Geoffrey starts his slow road to recovery, there is going to be a real celebration when he finally gets to hug the grandson he was so looking forward to meeting.

The good news is long overdue for the family, who have endured several tragedies in the past.

Geoffrey's daughter Heather passed away on April 22 last year.

The family had a brother, Nigel, die from silent pneumonia at just three years old.

And two sisters, Carol and Heather McKillop, lost their lives in a fatal car crash in 1980.

"Geoffrey had been at ill home with his partner for 10 days," his sister Anne told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When he developed a cough we started to worry and his breathing became laboured.

"He eventually had to go to hospital on Sunday, April 5. His oxygen level was only at 50% and he went straight into intensive care.

"His condition got worse and he went on to ventilation and it was on the Sunday night, a week later, that we were told they had exhausted all possible treatments.

"I was waiting by the phone for the news that he had gone.

"But what happened next was a miracle, he slowly started to improve.

"He finally came off ventilation on Saturday, April 25 and was then moved out of intensive care. It's going to be a long, slow recovery but he now has the joy of holding his first grandson to look forward to."

Alexander Geoffrey Aaron McKillop was born on Tuesday, April 19 in Antrim Area Hospital to Geoffrey's son Mark and his girlfriend Emma.

"It's the news he was waiting for," said Anne. "I was able to send a photo of Alexander to his phone and a nurse whispered the news to him. He opened his eyes to see the photo.

"Now we can't wait to have everyone together again. We just didn't think it would happen. We'd lost him, but he came back to us."

The whole of Bushmills came out of their homes to celebrate on their doorsteps when news of Geoffrey's remarkable recovery reached the village.

"Geoffrey's so well-known in the town. Everyone was rooting for him," said Anne.

Geoffrey owns the Hip Chip and the Codsway restaurants in Bushmills and both had been forced to close during the lockdown.

He is also well-known for a badminton career which saw him play for Ulster and Ireland.

"We had messages from New Zealand and Canada. Everyone's delighted to see him pull through and we feel blessed to still have him with us," said Anne.

Geoffrey's brother Stephen said it was an emotional moment as he watched staff line the hospital corridor to applaud as he left the ICU.

"Our family have had trials in the past. In short, losing Geoffrey would have been too much for us all to bear," he said.

"We can't find words to express our gratitude for the determination and dedication to the staff. The care Geoffrey received was wonderful. A big thank-you must go to our NHS and specifically to the Causeway Hospital medical staff.

"We were extremely touched that the whole town clapped for Geoffrey on Wednesday night as our family, including our 81-year-old mum Lily and dad James (83), gathered together at the Hip Chip to show Geoffrey our love."

And nurse Anne was full of praise for her co-workers at Causeway Hospital.

"We are all totally in awe of the devotion, dedication and care of the nurses and doctors in helping Geoffrey win his fight," she said.

"I've always been proud to work there, but today I'm even more proud to say that I'm one of the staff of the hospital.

"I haven't been working for the past few weeks because of Geoffrey's situation, but when I went in to leave a few things for him this earlier this week it was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces.

"And there's a special word of praise for the anaesthetist who had to call to let me know Geoffrey was struggling to survive that Sunday night.

"That's such a difficult job for anyone to have to do. Words are not enough to say thank you."

Belfast Telegraph