Northern Ireland news

Father says Derry teen Aaron Doherty was 'Covid negative' when he died

Teenager Aaron Doherty's funeral will take place in Derry later
Seamus McKinney

THE father of Aaron Doherty, the youngest person reported as dying with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, said his son was “Covid-negative” when he died.

Under Department of Health guidelines, anyone who dies within 28 days of being tested positive for Covid-19 is listed as a coronavirus death.

Aaron (17) was tested positive for the virus some weeks ago. However, a new test carried out last week was returned as negative. The Derry teenager took ill on Monday night and was admitted to Altnagelvin hospital where he died on Tuesday morning.

Aaron’s father, Jim Doherty said yesterday his family was determined his son would not be known as a statistic as being the youngest person in the north to die from Covid-19. He said headlines were “hurtful” to the family.

Mr Doherty told the BBC: “Aaron at the time of his death was Covid negative. We were told he had heart failure; that they couldn’t resuscitate him.”

Mr Doherty said his son suffered from “Cushing’s Syndrome”, a condition which caused his body to produce too much of the cortisol hormone – and was due to undergo treatment in Belfast. He said that as his son was taken by ambulance to hospital on Monday night, he told the teenager he would see him later.

“He waved back. That was the last time I saw him alive,” he said.

Aaron was described by his family and as the “happiest child”. After leaving St Joseph’s boys’ school last year, he started work in a McDonald’s fast food outlet in Derry. Mr Doherty described his son as a “wee gem”.

A sports fan, Aaron had played with local junior club, Ballymoor FC and was a keen Celtic fan. In tribute Celtic fans paid tribute during last night’s Europa League game against Lille by applauding at the 17th minute of the game, marking the Derry teenager’s age.

Sports fans also paid tribute on social media with many Celtic supporters posting “Hail, hail” the opening words of the Glasgow club’s song. In the Stormont executive’s Covid-19 update last night, deputy first minister, Michelle O’Neill also passed on her sympathies to the Doherty family and to all those grieving coronavirus deaths.

Mr Doherty said the huge outpouring of grief had overwhelmed his family and had been a great comfort to them.

Aaron will be buried following Requiem Mass at St Columba’s church, Long Tower in Derry today.

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