An 85-year-old man who defied the odds and survived Covid-19 despite battling other life-threatening issues for almost a year was given a hero's welcome when he returned to his home in Finglas yesterday.
Kyran O'Brien was not expected to live long - even before he contracted the killer virus at the end of April.
But to the delight of his wife of 52 years, Patricia (81) and their adult children Lisa (45), Kyran Jnr (48) and Debbie (51), Kyran Snr - whom medical staff nicknamed 'Lazarus' and 'The Miracle Man' - rocked up to the family home on Griffith Road in Dublin where he was cheered on by family and friends.
Dozens of neighbours lined the street with balloons and 'welcome home' banners as he was wheeled into the family home by paramedics.
"The whole neighbourhood came out, everyone was clapping and crying," his daughter Lisa O'Brien told the Irish Independent.
"Nobody could believe it, especially after he got Covid."
But things were not looking so rosy just under a year ago when Mr O'Brien, who was diagnosed with cognitive dementia three years ago, was hospitalised for the first time in his life for pneumonia at the Mater Hospital.
By the end of October he was diagnosed with acute kidney failure. His prognosis wasn't good and he was moved to the Mater Hospital's community unit in Fairview for "end-of-life" care on December 23, Ms O'Brien said.
"He was never at death's door, but he was dying. He was a very sick man," she said, adding the family was told he only had weeks to live.
He was then transferred to the Beneavin Manor nursing home in Finglas which specialises in dementia care. But when Covid-19 struck the nursing home, he tested positive for the virus at the end of April.
"We thought, 'this is it'," Ms O'Brien said. "How could an 85-year-old man with kidney failure and dementia fight this?"
Her father was then brought back to the Mater Hospital and the family had resigned themselves to the fact that he would not likely be coming out. He tested positive for the virus for the ensuing six weeks.
Again, the family braced themselves for the heartbreaking prospect of having to bid farewell without being able to hold his hand due to Covid-19 restrictions.
He continued to be tested for the virus every 72 hours and the readings kept coming back positive.
But for the first time in almost a year, the family were given good news last week that he had twice tested negative for the virus and could go home.
"We couldn't believe it," Ms O'Brien said, adding the medical staff lined the corridor to give him a well-deserved send-off.