Ian Paisley confounds the fears for his health
When former First Minister Ian Paisley was admitted to the Ulster Hospital almost a month ago, few in the medical profession believed he would recover.
And as it emerged he was critically ill in the intensive care unit with his family at his bedside, it only heightened fears the 85-year-old, who was fitted with a pacemaker last year, was facing death.
At the time one medical source said: “It certainly doesn’t sound good.
“I don’t know his clinical condition but it is not a good sign when someone his age requires treatment in intensive care,” they added.
So news that Lord Bannside has not only been discharged from hospital, but that he drove home, is proof of his remarkable resilience when gravely ill.
It is not the first time he has recovered from a near-fatal illness.
Seven years ago he was treated for an undisclosed illness after which he admitted he had “walked in death's shadow”.
His latest admission to hospital is understood to have been a result of a heart condition, and once again he has demonstrated the same fighting spirit that brought the ‘Big Man’ to prominence during his colourful political career.
“He obviously was seriously ill, although I don’t know the clinical details,” said one doctor.
“In my experience it wouldn’t be the first time someone from his generation has pulled through from a serious illness. They are exceedingly resilient and I have had patients of his age who have recovered quite dramatically.
“Most of them have worked very hard and looked after themselves. A lot of younger people wouldn’t be in as good a shape as he is.
“Don’t forget that he doesn’t smoke or drink, and I imagine he would have been in fairly good physical shape, apart from the problem that led to him requiring hospital treatment.
“When you have a patient with a number of conditions, such as failing kidneys, diabetes, their breathing has been compromised from asthma or smoking, they are at much greater risk.
“However, when a patient has just one condition — while it could be serious enough to do a lot of harm — they are much more likely to recover.”
The doctor added: “It is also goes to show the level of medical care he received while he was in hospital.”