Aaron Doherty: Son's 'devastating death not a Covid-19 statistic'

By Keiron Tourish
BBC News NI north west correspondent

Image source, Doherty family picture
Image caption,
Aaron Doherty was just 17 when he died at Altnagelvin hospital on Tuesday

The father of a teenager reported to be the youngest person to die with Covid-19 in NI has said he doesn't want him to be remembered as a statistic.

Aaron Doherty, 17, from Londonderry, died in hospital on Tuesday.

His family say they were told Aaron, who had underlying health issues, died from heart failure.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health, while not naming Aaron, reported the first coronavirus-related death of someone under the age of 20.

Jim Doherty told BBC News NI his family are devastated at the loss of their youngest child.

"These headlines are very hurting to us, that he has become a statistic of Covid-19," he said.

"I don't want him to be remembered as a statistic, as the youngest person to have died of Covid. As far as we are concerned he died of heart failure."

Image source, BBC
Image caption,
Aaron's father Jim told the BBC he doesn't want him to be remembered as a "statistic"

He added: "We just have to get our point across. Aaron at the time of his death was Covid negative, we were told he had heart failure, that they couldn't resuscitate him."

The Department of Health includes anyone who had died within 28 days of receiving a positive test for Covid-19 as a coronavirus-related death.

He said Aaron was "a happy boy who loved his family".

"From the day he was born we just knew he was a great child. He was beautiful, a pleasure to have."

He said if every family had children like Aaron "it would be a happy world".

The Doherty family, he said, are now in "deep mourning".

He added: "Last time I saw him was in the back of the ambulance, Aaron waved to me, I waved back, I said 'see you tomorrow', but I didn't."

Sad news today to hear of the passing of former Ballymoor player Aaron Doherty. Taken too soon. RIP Aaron ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️🍀🍀🍀🍀

Posted by Ballymoor FC on Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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Earlier this year, Aaron was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome, a condition that causes the body to produce too much of the hormone cortisol.

He was due to undergo surgery in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital and had been sent for a routine coronavirus test around a month ago, which was positive.

He showed no symptoms and later tested negative, his father said.

'Outpouring of grief'

Aaron's father said the family have taken comfort from the many messages of sympathy and support they have received.

"We are overwhelmed, me and his mother. Thousands of people have been contacting us, saying what a lovely lad he was - that's how we want him remembered," he said.