COVID-19 survivor says he owes his life to staff at Addenbrooke’s

A plumber from Doddington says he owes his life to staff at Addenbrooke’s after nearly dying from COVID-19.

Dan Eggleton, 33 spent two weeks on a ventilator in a medically induced coma fighting the disease after it left him unable to breathe on his own. Following his treatment he 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 staff at Addenbrooke’s – they were so kind and treated me like family.”

Dan and his partner, Shanie, initially thought they had 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.

“I contacted NHS 111 and they immediately sent me to A&E. When I got there it was a bit daunting seeing everyone in masks, aprons and visors, but all the staff were really friendly and they quickly got me onto a ward.”

Dan was swabbed for COVID-19 and by the time the test had returned positive his condition had deteriorated as his body struggled to overcome the virus, which in turn had brought on a bout of pneumonia.

“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 – I initially said yes – but within half an hour there was a crash team and three doctors at the end of my bed and 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.” Dan is now recovering at home, with Shanie and his youngest son Charlie, 12. He’s also received lots of support from older son, Harvey, 16, and friends and family who live nearby. “The support we have had has been simply amazing. In the days I’ve been home from the hospital we’ve not had to cook a meal yet thanks to donations left on the doorstep.

“I am just so absolutely grateful to all the staff at Addenbrooke’s. They really treated me like family at a time when I needed help the most.”

Dan 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. It is really frustrating when you see people going about their daily lives and just not taking this seriously. When I was in hospital another man who was there lost his wife. This disease is very real, and I am just so glad the staff at Addenbrooke’s were there to help me get through it.”

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