Coronavirus survivor who spent two weeks in a coma warns people to ‘take disease seriously’
- Credit: Archant
A Doddington plumber who nearly died from COVID-19 and is now making a slow recovery says “people don’t realise how serious this virus is”.
Dan Eggleton spent two weeks on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma fighting the coronavirus after it left him unable to breathe on his own.
The 33-year-old, who has been at home recovering with his family for two-and-a-half-weeks, has thanked doctors and nurses at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for saving his life.
Initially thought he and his partner Shanie had the flu when they both fell ill at the end of March. But what started off as coughing and sneezing quickly turned into a high temperature, sickness and breathing difficulties for Dan, who has a weakened immune system since battling leukaemia over 10 years ago.
After calling NHS 111 he was immediately advised to go to A&E. Dan, who drove there himself and remembers it being “daunting to see everyone in masks, aprons and visors”, was then rushed onto a ward.
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By the time Dan’s swab test had returned positive, his condition had deteriorated as his body struggled to overcome the virus, which in turn had caused pneumonia on both lungs.
He said: “I had a high temperature and was struggling to breathe with just oxygen. The doctors asked me if I could cope with breathing on my own.
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“I initially said yes, but within half an hour there was a crash team and three doctors at the end of my bed. I had to be rushed through the hospital to intensive care.”
Dan was put on a ventilator and remembers someone telling him that if he felt tired not to fight it, but the father-of-two says he cannot recall much after that.
“I was aware of them trying to wake me up a couple of times, but it was two weeks before I really started to get a sense of what was going on at all,” he said.
During this time, his partner Shanie, who had also been ill at home, was phoning the hospital two or three times a day to get updates.
She added: “It was really hard not being able to see or to speak with Dan, and all the time he was critical I was out of my mind with worry.
“But the hospital staff were brilliant at keeping me informed of his progress and when I finally heard they had been able to wake him up it was such a huge relief.”
Dan spent another week in the hospital working to build up his strength. “I had a feeding tube in while I was in the coma so I had to teach myself how to swallow and to talk again.
“I had also lost all strength in my hips, knees and ankles so I had to more or less learn to walk again with the aid of a physio.
“When I finally got the okay from the doctor to go home again it was just amazing. I called Shanie and just asked her to get here quick.”
Following treatment Dan has had to learn to eat, speak and walk again and expects it to be another six months before he is back to normal.
He said: “I completely owe my life to the team at Addenbrooke’s - they were so kind and treated me like family.
Having also lost over 10kg while battling the virus, Dan is now recovering at home, with Shanie and his youngest son Charlie, aged 12.
He’s also received lots of support from older son, Harvey, 16, and friends and family who live nearby.
Dan, who also thanked his local community for their support – including dropping food to his door - has agreed to take part in a clinical trial to help doctors understand how the genomic make up of different individuals impacts the severity of COVID-19.
“Since having cancer I have always had a slightly weakened immune system but aside from that I am relatively fit and healthy.
“Many people think this just affects old people – but it can affect anyone and have devastating consequences.
“People don’t realise how serious this virus is and the effects it can have on them. Everyone needs to social distance so we can try and get this all under control.
“If people saw what I saw while in hospital, including another man who lost his wife... it’s people of all ages suffering and fighting this disease.”