Emotional scenes as Gerard leaves Intensive Care at last

IT has become a bright symbol of hope in desperately dark times - but the sight of patients being applauded as they leave Intensive Care still packs a hefty emotional punch.

This week it was the turn of Randalstown man Gerard McLarnon to take the first testing steps on the long road to recovery.

He had spent eight weeks in ICU, but his family and friends never gave up hope that he would emerge through those doors - and back into their lives again.

That journey was filmed and the NHS heroes who tended him in his darkest hour lined the corridors to congratulate him.

And Gerard thanked them too, waving to the frontline workers who had helped him in his darkest hour.

Kickham’s GAC Creggan have paid tribute to them too.

“We can’t thank the amazing health workers in our local hospitals enough,” they said in a statement.

“Your well wishes, thoughts, prayers and help has made this milestone possible.

“Well done Gerard and the entire McLarnon family.”

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They added that his remarkable fortitude was testament to the man.

“What a battle it has been the past number of months,” said the club.

“What an unbelievable and emotional scene this is.”

They posted the video onto their Facebook page and already it has been viewed almost 1,500 times and sparked hundreds of comments.

Among them was a message of thanks from Creggan Primary School, who said the wider community had been united in wishing the popular local man well.

“Thank you to all who joined us each week in prayer for Gerard’s recovery,” they said.

Another comment said: “What a hero! Gerard you fought hard every minute of every day. Congratulations on what you have achieved.

“Amazing job! It’s the most fantastic news for the staff in ICU to see you on your journey of recovery. Wishing you all the best.”

Another said: “Heartwarming video. Delighted for Gerard and all his family and humbled by the NHS staff that work in such difficult circumstances.”

Sinn Féin Assemblyman Declan Kearney said the local man’s family and friends were now looking forward to welcoming him back home.

“I’m delighted for Gerard, Kathleen and the whole family,” he said.

“Getting another wee bit closer to home and Randalstown!”

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