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‘I knew the day Mam left that she wasn't going to come back – I just had a gut feeling I'd never see her again’

Care worker Catherine Whelan Hickey's condition deteriorated swiftly after becoming ill with Covid

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Catherine Whelan Hickey (51) from Kilkenny died on April 15, 2020 after becoming ill one week earlier

Catherine Whelan Hickey (51) from Kilkenny died on April 15, 2020 after becoming ill one week earlier

Catherine Whelan Hickey (51) from Kilkenny died on April 15, 2020 after becoming ill one week earlier

CATHERINE Whelan Hickey (51) from Kilkenny died on April 15, 2020 after becoming ill just one week earlier.

Mam was the most bubbly and lively person. She loved singing and dancing,” said her daughter Mechaela (23).

“She worked in housekeeping at St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny.

“After she tested positive, she was isolating in the bedroom just so my dad Joe or I didn't get it as well. And then she nearly collapsed one day, but she came around and she was fine.

“And then all of a sudden she was very breathless, even walking from the room to the bathroom. And then she wasn't eating or drinking. She just got very ill and ended up in hospital.

“I knew the day she left that she wasn't going to come back. I just had a gut feeling I'd never see her again,” she added.

“I think Mam and a man who died the night before her were the first healthcare workers to die from Covid in Ireland.

“She was brought to a funeral home that day. The following day, just close members of the family got to go there. It was the most lonely thing I’ve ever done in my life.

“My love language is physical touch, and I couldn’t even hug my brother Chris.

“This year I’m hoping to do a charity night with an ABBA band in Mam’s memory. She was a massive fan. The last film she watched before she went into hospital was Mamma Mia. I haven’t been able to watch it since.”

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