A face behind the coronavirus stats: Caller's wonderful tribute to her dad

7 May 2020, 14:14 | Updated: 7 May 2020, 14:15

By Fiona Jones

This caller gave James O'Brien a truly touching tribute about her father Thomas who died from coronavirus. It is a poignant listen and reminds us all of the humans behind the statistics.

Julie from Croydon told James about her 79 year old father Thomas who died from coronavirus on 24 April - the family were hoping to celebrate his 80th birthday in October.

In 2008, when Julie's mother died, she was alone - Julie and her sister vowed to never let their father die alone, but due to the pandemic, sadly that was not to be.

Thomas was coughing a lot and every day he was weakening, although in his "typical Caribbean way" he said he was "not too good, not too bad" when Julie asked.

His breathing worsened to the point he couldn't speak so Julie called an ambulance which arrived in 10 minutes. His oxygen levels had plummeted so he was sent straight to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator.

"Soon after that his breathing had apparently stopped because we were told that he had Covid pneumonia in four chambers of his lungs... he was going down quickly.

"We were at home, we couldn't be with him," Julie said. She asked of the medics two things when he died: that he wouldn't be in pain and he wouldn't be alone.

As of Wednesday's press conference, the number of deaths surpassed 30,000
As of Wednesday's press conference, the number of deaths surpassed 30,000. Picture: No 10

Julie and her sister managed to get a priest to say a final prayer for him while they all watched on video and said their goodbyes. Julie, through tears, emphasised people must stay inside so they do not have to have the awful experience of saying goodbye over a video call.

"He knew how much you love him, he knew in his bones," James assured her, "that will have been a great comfort to him even if you weren't there."

Julie reminisced about her two Caribbean parents who worked hard and were so proud of their children. She told James how everyone loved her dapper and kind father with a huge smile.

"We didn't have much but what we had was love. They always said it's nice to be important but always important to be nice.

"The great comfort I have is that he's with his beautiful wife again," she said.

She thanked James for allowing families to have a voice and put a "human behind these stats."