Teacher Murdo MacDonald, 38, was working on Benbecula, when he fell seriously ill.
Doctors diagnosed malaria which he had contracted on an exchange trip to Africa.
He said: "It was November 2001 and I became unwell and was sent to Stornoway Hospital.
"I was in for a week, but my friends and colleagues from North Uist were not able to visit me at the weekend because there was not a ferry on a Sunday.
"There was not even a return on a Saturday.
"Basically it came down to no-one being able to visit me as I lay dying."
Mr MacDonald, who now works in Glasgow but whose parents come from Harris and North Uist, said: "I don't see the ferry being any different than driving.
"I remember being told that the people who work on the ferry are contracted for Sundays anyway so it wouldn't be a problem for the guys."
Julie Woodford, a 61-year-old retired occupational therapist from Shawbost, Lewis, moved to the Western Isles 12 years ago and loves the peace of the Sabbath.
She said: "Being realistic I realise that the islands are in a difficult position but I strongly believe that the islanders themselves should be listened to.
"The Sabbaths there are very special - both Christians and non-committed people agree to that.
"I do not want to go into the religious side of things as that may well alienate some people, but having a day of complete rest is good for the body, as well as the soul, as many on the mainland would now agree.
"I think it would be a shame to cut all the traditions that make these islands so special.
"There is always an outcry on the mainland if traditions are tampered with."