Community nurse Nancy, who appeared in last night’s episode of BBC2 documentary Hospital: Fighting Covid-19, was put on a ventilator in the Royal Free Hospital in London after contracting the disease.
She required an operation to treat her – which the hospital had never seen before – and she was given a 50% chance of survival.
The mother was discharged from hospital after four weeks, some of which in an intensive care unit, and she gave an impassioned speech to her colleagues.
She said: ‘My colleagues, I want you to understand that I am truly, truly grateful. From the bottom of my heart.
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‘I have worked for the NHS since 1970. I’ve worked every day of my life and never taken a day off sick. So you can imagine how angry I am that this stupid illness got me.
‘I want you all to know I am truly, truly grateful and indebted to so many of you, who have left your families so far away and you are here to help us.
‘Please just hold on a little bit more, we will overcome this. And when we do, hopefully the NHS will be better for it. So I am truly grateful. I am proud to be a nurse.’
Nancy, who couldn’t even walk without assistance for three weeks, said the virus ‘took control’ of her life immediately.
‘On that weekend I felt unwell and I went to the Royal Free,’ she said on the documentary, ‘Before you knew it, I’d lost control of my life and that was scary for me. I had no idea of the parameters I was dealing with, I knew I was not in control.’
Dr. Sanjay Bhgani, who treated Nancy, said that after a patient has come off a ventilator, it is by no means the end of their illness, with many taking weeks to recover fully.
He explained some of the challenges facing the illness and how little we know about it currently, before revealing how procedures changed based on Nancy’s treatment.
‘Nancy went from casualty straight through to the intensive care unit and we were saying look there’s a 50, 60% chance of dying,’ he said.
‘That was our first example of something we hadn’t seen with a viral infection before which is loads of swelling of the larynx.
‘And on that basis the whole of the intensive care have changed the way they work and so they always put down now smaller tubes than required as they know there will be swelling of the larynx so we learned a lot from looking after Nancy.’
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