A NORTH Ayrshire dad has pleaded for people not to forget those who are shielding from the potentially deadly coronavirus.

Gavin Paterson, 37, has had to stay at home for the last 13 weeks to protect himself from catching COVID-19.

The dad-of-one received a kidney transplant in 2008, which means he has to take medication to suppress his immune system, making him vulnerable to viruses.

He told the Herald: “When I was unwell before the

transplant, I couldn’t go to work, I was quite isolated, wasn’t able to go to the shops very often and I was spending a lot of time in the house.

“Lockdown has brought back some of the feelings I had from being unwell.

“You feel like a bit of an outcast. Other people are going out, going to work, you feel left out.”

Gavin’s transplant, donated by his sister, made him feel integrated into normal life again.

Now the pandemic has reminded him of what his life was like before.

He said: “At the outset, watching the news, and seeing the mortality rates, and recognising the position I was in was high risk.

“It was quite frightening.

“Most of us in the shielding category, we’ve been through some difficult times, and a lot of us have been through life-threatening times, been close to death.”

Gavin said the first week was full of sleepless nights, kept awake by fears for his daughter and wife if he wasn’t around for them.

Gavin’s wife, Paulina, 38, and their daughter Georgia, two-and-a-half, have been isolating with him.

After the first couple of weeks, however, the anxiety receded, and he felt fortunate to be at home, safe with his family.

Although Paulina and Georgia have been able to go out once a day for a walk somewhere secluded, they’ve not been able to see family or friends – making it difficult for them too.

Gavin said: “How do you explain to a two-year-old why they can’t hug their grandparents?”

“It’s been very hard watching the two of them going out for a walk ever day, my daughter asking me why I’m not coming with them.”

Last week at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said shielding for those that are vulnerable has been ‘undoubtedly the most difficult part of lockdown’.

There are around 180,000 people in the shielding group.

Gavin said: “I would like to urge people to check-in on anyone whom they know to be shielding, whether it be a text, call or email.

“It is a very lonely time for some of us. Don’t forget about us.”