The longest patient Covid in the UK spoke of her miraculous recovery after 130 amazing days in the hospital.
Fatima Bridle, 35, fell ill after returning from Morocco. She spent 105 days on a ventilator battling the virus, pneumonia and sepsis, but is now in the recovery room.
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She hopes to be home in a few weeks and find her husband Tracy, who also fell ill and has not seen her in person since her admission.
Fatima, who gave the Sun Sunday permission to tell her incredible story, spent 40 days in a coma and underwent a tracheostomy.
She said: “They are amazing – I want to thank each of the doctors and nurses who gave me a chance at a new life. I’m glad to be here. It sounds like a dream. ”
Tonight, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Fatima’s recovery was a testament to ‘our brilliant NHS’, adding: ‘I am absolutely delighted with this news.
“It proves that no matter who you are, the NHS is there for you and your family. ”
Dr Bharat Pankhania, an infectious disease specialist, added: “It’s great that this woman is alive and has received such great care.”
Former soldier Tracy, 56, said of his wife, “This is my medical miracle. Being on a ventilator for that long and surviving is amazing. I can’t wait to see her again.
The couple believe they caught Covid after returning from Morocco, with Fatima barely able to breathe in a few days.
FIGHT FOR LIFE
Doctors confirmed she had the virus and she was rushed to Southampton General Hospital on March 12.
Six days later, she went to intensive care. Tracy said, “At the start of the second week, I was told that she was critical. A nurse said, “She’s fighting for life.”
“Then they told me that she also had pneumonia.
“They would put them on fans and turn them around like roast chickens to try to get them to respond to the treatment.
“I had watched a lot of reports on Covid at this point and his situation was killing me.
“I also blamed myself because I was initially sick and felt like I had given it to him.
On March 24, Tracy learned that Fatima had not responded to the antibiotics. He said, “She was in a coma for 40 days and I thought I was losing her. I said prayers but the whole of April was horrible.
“I was going crazy, I was crying all the time and I was on medication.
But at the end of the month, doctors said Fatima no longer had Covid, even though she was still battling pneumonia. In mid-May, she was able to mumble her first words.
She was supported by a respirator but did not totally depend on it.
Her husband said, “The first words she said were, ‘I want to talk to my Tracy’. She didn’t know what had happened or how long she had been there.
“Doctors said it was remarkable and amazing but warned that there would be bumps on the road.
“Fatima suffered from collapsed lungs and will never regain her full capacity.”
As she recovered slowly, Fatima was able to breathe between 10 and 20% of her lung capacity.
At first she could barely move and spoke weakly. She was eventually allowed to phone Tracy.
To be on such a long fan and survive is extraordinary.
He said, “When she called, I thought they were letting her speak to me to say goodbye. I was distraught.
“But she whispered, ‘Tracy, what happened? Then I lost the plot and said, ‘Sorry, it was my fault.’ ”
But he began to hope for the best as his wife recovered. Experienced pulmonary doctors told him that they had never seen such a miraculous cure.
Tracy suffered another stroke when he learned that Fatima had developed sepsis, where the body’s response to infection damages tissues and organs.
He said: “This news was horrible. Sepsis killed blood cells.
“Her right lung was working better than her left and she had transfusions.
“After a few weeks they said they had the sepsis under control, but she came back and she fought it again.
Three weeks ago, doctors gave Fatima a wash – where a tube is inserted into the mouth and a saline solution is used to clear the lungs.
This has seen its capacity increase to 40%. It is now 70%.
Fatima was transferred to general service 2.5 weeks ago and could breathe without a ventilator. She has since moved to another hospital for rehabilitation.
Tracy was able to talk to him more often – but they ruled out FaceTime because it made them too emotional and his condition worsened.
The couple’s ordeal began after they returned to Britain on March 6 after a month in Mohammedia, Morocco, with Fatima’s family.
They had not checked the news and therefore had not heard of Covid when they boarded a Ryanair flight from Rabat to Stansted.
Tracy, who met Fatima online in 2016 and has four children from other relationships, said: “We went through the airport without checks or information.
“We took a coach to Victoria station in London and then another to Southampton.
“We spent hours waiting at the airport and at the bus station. Lots of travelers from China and Hong Kong were there with masks. Many were coughing.
“But nobody said anything when we passed by the airport and we didn’t know why they were wearing masks.
“If we had known what we know now, we would have done things differently. “
“Thought it was the flu”
After reaching their Southampton apartment at 5 a.m., the exhausted couple went to bed. Tracy slept 24 hours until he was woken up by his worried wife.
He said, “I didn’t know that so long had passed, and Fatima said, ‘Baby you need to eat.’
“I felt frozen and I was wrapped in six quilts and blankets. But I thought I had the flu and told her not to worry.
“I was still not right on the fifth day and she wanted to call an ambulance.
“Then, on March 12, I went to the bathroom, came back and looked at her – she couldn’t move and she said, ‘I can’t breathe.’
“I touched her skin and burned my finger. She was like hot poker.
Concerned Tracy, who still hadn’t read the coronavirus reports due to her own illness, dialed 999.
He was shocked when a doctor arrived in a protective suit against hazardous materials and carried out a finger prick blood test on Fatima. The doctor confirmed Covid and told Tracy to self-isolate while his wife went to the hospital.
I felt frozen and wrapped in six comforters and blankets. But I thought I had the flu and told him not to worry.
At this point, Britain had 590 confirmed cases and ten deaths, still 11 days from the lockdown.
Tracy, who suffers from PTSD from serving in the Royal Green Jackets and is registered as disabled due to damaged spinal disks, said, “They told me that I could not come to the hospital and that I could be arrested if I tried to do so.
“I was distraught and just shouted, ‘Please take care of her.’
Fatima received antibiotics for several days before being transferred to the intensive care unit on March 18.
Following his miraculous recovery, doctors strive to strengthen his strength. She went to the toilet unassisted and used a Zimmer frame to move around a garden.
Tracy prepares for their reunion after more than four months.
He said, “Fatima said the doctors and everyone in the service has been amazing and the world needs to know this story to give people hope.
Disease expert Dr Pankhania added: “Going on a ventilator can be tricky. It breathes for you, but you’re basically asleep so lose muscle mass.
“Chances are she will recover, but like other Covid patients, it will be important to check her heart, kidneys and muscles.”
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Fatima’s 130-day stay beats the 95-day ordeal of 52-year-old Keith Watson.
Bricklayer Keith fell into a coma in March and was in intensive care for 41 days before returning home to Herne Bay, Kent, last month.
Dance teacher Steve White, 56, spent 92 days in Hereford County Hospital until last month.
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