By Connla Young
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Niall Murphy gives the thumbs-up as he is wheeled out of intensive care on Good Friday
Prominent Belfast solicitor Niall Murphy has paid tribute to the medics who fought to save his life after he contracted Covid-19.
The 43-year-old left Antrim Area Hospital where he spent almost a month, including 16 days in a coma, after being admitted on March 25.
There was an outpouring of goodwill for the father-of-three after it emerged he had been placed in an induced coma and put on a ventilator after contracting the virus.
A partner at KRW Law, Mr Murphy has been involved in several high profile court cases in recent years and is a familiar figure on the legal circuit.
He is also well known in GAA circles and is vice-chairman of Naomh Éanna GAA club in Glengormley and chairman of Club Aontroma.
As Mr Murphy was reunited with his wife Marie and three children, aged 12, 11 and 7 last night he had a special word of praise for those who cared for him.
“My mother would have a very strong faith and prayed that my bed would be guarded by angels,” he said.
"And it was, by the doctors, nurses, physios and staff of the NHS,” he said.
He revealed how close he came to death during his ordeal.
“I was in a coma for 16 days and was obviously oblivious to everything but the hardest toll was carried by family.
“At one stage, Marie was advised that it was 50/50 if I would pull through," he told The Detail investigative news website.
“I’m only now coming round to appreciate the danger I was in but my wife and family had to live with it in real time."
The lawyer believes he may have picked up the virus while taking part in speaking engagements abroad in early March.
“I had been invited to New York by the Brehon Law Society to speak at their annual St Patrick’s Day dinner on Tuesday, March 10,” he said.
“I also had some engagements on behalf of the Ireland’s Future group.
“I had flown to New York from Glasgow where I’d had some similar talks, so I was fairly tired on the flight home into Dublin.
“I think I either picked it up in the taxi to the airport, at the airport or indeed, on the plane itself.”
After a period of time in self-isolation, during which his temperature rose to over 40C, he eventually made his way to hospital.
During his illness he received messages of support from across the globe, including one from New York State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli.
In the run up to Easter his condition began to improve and he was eventually allowed to leave intensive care on Good Friday. Video footage emerged showing ICU staff applauding as he was wheeled out of intensive care to continue his recovery.
Mr Murphy said “as society a society we should be ashamed of ourselves as to how we treat and resource the NHS.
“These people are the equivalent of the firemen who rushed into the Twin Towers on 9/11 yet we have asked them to confront this crisis with insufficient PPE,” he said.
“That’s a disgrace.
"We should be ashamed at the fact that nurses had to strike in the darkness of winter for pay parity.”
Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, described his colleague's return home as “a great relief”.
“It's a huge u-turn from where he was two weeks ago,” he said.
“I am primarily delighted for his family and as he returns home to his family.
“After that myself and colleagues that work with him are so pleased with this news and in time, after he recuperates, he will be back in work doing he does best - making himself available to everyone to help them in their different cases.”