Coronavirus plea from 40-year-old pastor in intensive care

Image source, Mark McClurg
Image caption,
Mark McClurg said he felt he was drowning

A County Down pastor who was seriously affected by coronavirus has issued a plea from his hospital bed over social distancing.

Mark McClurg, of Ards Elim, has spent the past week in intensive care.

"I am not a doctor, but let me say it like this, if we don't keep six feet apart, we are going to end up six feet under," he said.

The 40-year-old father-of-three was speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback.

He added: "The social distancing is to protect us and more importantly to protect the NHS.

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Mr McClurg said every breath was painful and recalled how he prayed to God for help.

He is still in the early stages of recovery from the virus and remains in hospital.

'I can't breathe'

He said he told his wife: "This is it, I can't breathe no more.

"I'm a Christian and I love Jesus, but I said to Claire, I know I'm going to heaven, I was so worried for them.

"I even prayed, I said: 'Lord I am ready for heaven, but I'm not ready to leave my family they need me'."I prayed the Lord would help me."

Mr McClurg said by Monday 16 March, he felt he was "drowning".

"I am fit and healthy and it felt like I was drowning, it is the only way I can describe it," he said

"What I know is coronavirus, which also came now with pneumonia

"It was actually sucking the life out of my lungs."

'Who lives and who dies'

Mr McClurg emphasised the importance of the public observing social distancing measures to protect both themselves and the NHS.

"If someone has to get into ICU (intensive care unit), because of coronavirus they are going to struggle to breathe," he said.

"Every breath is painful, every breath is sore, we need to protect the NHS staff.

"We need to protect the heart and soul of Northern Ireland, because there are only so many beds, there's only so many ventilators.

"I don't want this to come to a stage where they will have to pick and choose who lives and who dies."