Patient in a coma after contracting Covid-19 defies odds to beat virus

A husband who was in a coma for six weeks with coronavirus has gone home – two months after doctors told his wife to prepare for the worst.

Peter Goss, 68, from Welling, lost two stone while in Lewisham Hospital for two months for Covid-19.

He was discharged on 7 May and given a guard of honour by staff who’d cared for him during his stay.

“The care was incredible,” he said. “The nurses, doctors, physios, therapists were all brilliant. I feel so lucky to be alive.”

The first sign for his wife Sarah that he might live was when a doctor called her to tell her: ‘I’ve got some good news for you – your husband just told me to f— off!’”

Peter started to feel unwell on March 12 but did not have symptoms of Covid-19 – no cough, no breathing problems but he was very tired and achy and had no appetite. Paramedics told him he was fine. But he got worse over the weekend and on Monday his wife, Sarah, called NHS 111 and a doctor arranged for an ambulance to pick him up the next morning.

“I was able to walk downstairs but in the ambulance I lost consciousness,” said Peter. “I remember nothing from that moment until I woke up six weeks later.”

Two hours later, Peter was on a ventilator in intensive care. X-rays showed that his lungs were severely infected, and they were treating him as if he had Covid-19.

“This was a complete shock for me,” said Sarah. “It never entered my head it could be Covid-19 as this was in the early days of the disease. I wasn’t allowed to visit and it was hell for me just waiting at home for news. Fortunately the staff were brilliant at keeping in touch and called me regularly.”

A test confirmed Covid-19. He was on the ventilator for a week while receiving antibiotic treatment. On 26 March he was moved to Linden Ward and seemed to be stable, although he was still on antibiotics and needed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help with his breathing. Then, on Sunday 29 March, a doctor called Sarah telling her to prepare for the worst as Peter was gravely ill. He wasn’t responding to treatment, his breathing was very rapid and his sodium levels were too high.

“I was in a daze and didn’t know what to do,” says Sarah. “At 4.30pm the next day they called again and said Peter had taken a turn for the worse and could I go to the hospital. No visitors were allowed at this time so I knew it was serious. When I got there I put on PPE and was taken to his bed. He was unconscious, and I sat there for hours talking to him and holding his hand.”

Sarah’s visit was obviously the boost Peter needed, as from then on he started to improve. He was weaned off oxygen and antibiotics and eventually transferred to Juniper ward, where he woke up.

“The doctor rang and said ‘I’ve got some good news for you – your husband just told me to f— off!’” said Sarah.

A speech therapist used Peter’s phone to Facetime Sarah every day, although at the beginning he was unresponsive.

“He managed to say ‘I miss my dogs’ but he didn’t seem to recognise me and kept falling asleep,” said Sarah. “Then one day my phone rang and it was Peter talking completely normally. I couldn’t believe it. It was completely out of the blue. Later that day the speech therapist Facetimed me and said Peter wanted to talk to me again. When I saw him looking at me normally I burst into tears. He was back. It was like someone had flipped a switch.”

Cognitive tests showed that he’d made a full recovery and from then on he was determined to get home. He began working with physiotherapists to help regain his strength and mobility.

“I was so weak,” said Peter. “The physios got me sitting on the side of the bed and standing up. They were amazing – the help from them was second to none. Eventually I was able to walk across the ward and back unaided.”

Peter had lost two stone in hospital and was put on a special diet to build up his strength. “Once the food tube was taken out, I was eating three-course meals at lunch and dinner,” said Peter. “The food was out of this world – Shepherd’s pie, braised lamb, salmon en croute – it was amazing. I ate everything.”

Finally, on 7 May, Peter was allowed to go home. As he was wheeled out of the ward by two of his physios, he was overwhelmed to see the doctors, nurses and therapists who’d cared for him lining the route and clapping.

“I knew the staff were going to do a guard of honour,” said Sarah. “They’d got to know him during his time in hospital and never once did they give up on him. They were all so happy he’d pulled through. The video is amazing – I’ve shown it to all our friends and family and it reduces everyone to tears!”

Peter is now at home recuperating and looking forward to having a meal at the table with Sarah and walking their two German Shepherds.

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