The family of a Covid-19 patient who last week left Letterkenny University Hospital after being encouraged by anti-vaccine campaigners has criticised those involved and encouraged people to follow “proper” medical advice.
Joe McCarron, from Dungloe, was the subject of a viral video in which a group of people insisted that he be released from the hospital, despite medical staff stating this would worsen his condition.
He left on Tuesday but returned to the hospital on Thursday in an ambulance. A spokesperson for his family on Sunday said Mr McCarron was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit but was showing signs of recovering despite Covid-19 having caused him “serious lung damage”.
They said Mr McCarron’s wife, Una, “would like to thank the staff and apologise for the actions of Joe’s so-called reckless friends earlier in the week.
“They did not help Joe’s recovery in any way. We would encourage everyone to follow proper medical advice.”
The family offered its thanks to those who had sent messages of support.
In the video, one activist said he was “rescuing” Mr McCarron and falsely claimed that treatment in the hospital would “kill” him.
One staff member told the man that leaving the hospital would risk “endangering” his life, but the activist said it would be better if he were to “die in the house than he dies here”.
Mr McCarron, who appeared to be struggling to breathe in the footage, then agreed to return home and was later shown in a video posted on social media saying that he felt much better and accusing the hospital of mistreating him.
In a statement last week, a spokeswoman for Saolta Hospital Group (SHG) which oversees Letterkenny Hospital, said it could not comment on individual cases, citing its legal and ethical obligations regarding patient confidentiality.
The group has previously said it is “gravely concerned” by a number of recent incidents in which groups of activists have attempted to spread disinformation about Covid-19 at hospitals.