Coronavirus survivor: “I begged the doctors not to let me die” before being put on a ventilator | UK News


Darren Buttrick, 49, contracted coronavirus in March and became so ill that doctors told him to call his family to say goodbye.

The father of three, from Coven in South Staffordshire, was put into a coma on a ventilator – but miraculously pulled through.

Now he is donating his blood plasma to help others suffering from COVID-19 – and has become the UK’s most prolific donor, participating on seven occasions.

Here he tells his story to Sky News.

Three days before the lockdown in the UK I was rushed to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

Two paramedics arrived at my home in the morning to assess me and told me my oxygen was too low. I needed to be taken to the hospital.

After being transported in an ambulance with blue lights and sirens, I was taken to a small sterile room where medical staff in full PPE checked me.

The doctor said they would do a blood gas test to determine what was going on with my blood and oxygen. She came back and said it wasn’t good, but they would say it again just to be sure.

I was lying on the hospital bed upset, scared, and worried that I would not be allowed to go home.

Mr Buttrick says he had 15 minutes to call relatives

Shortly after, the second test came back and it was exactly the same as before.

The doctor told me it was so bad that I would have to go to the intensive care unit (ICU), put in a induced coma and ventilate.

I could barely speak but told her I didn’t want this.

“Just give me some oxygen,” I said.

But the doctor replied, “I’m afraid to say you’re beyond that. Your body is struggling and will start to shut down, so we need to act now to save you.

“There are still risks because we don’t know what we are dealing with, but you are wrong and we promise to do our best. ”

She said I had 15 minutes to call my relatives and tell them what was going to happen.

Mr. Buttrick with his wife and three daughters

“We will do everything we can to save you, but you have to understand that it could go both ways and you have to say what you need and what you want to say to your loved ones – this could be your last call,” the doctor said.

I cried, I sobbed and I begged. I couldn’t believe it was so bad and was facing the unknown – maybe even death.

I had no underlying health issues and went to the gym, even recently hiring a personal trainer.

The doctor reassured me and told me that they would do everything possible to save me and that I was of age and my previous health in my favor.

I called my wife, my parents, my brothers, my sister and a few friends. These are the worst calls I have ever had to make.

My wife broke down and surely hadn’t expected this call. My parents were crying and incredulous – they said they didn’t want to let me go before them.

A co-worker said to me, “Darren, fight for your life, we fight for you. ”

One of my daughters had no idea how serious my illness was and said, “Dad, please sleep well and come back soon. “

A card Mr. Buttrick received from his teenage daughters
A card Mr. Buttrick received from his teenage daughters

My wife clearly told them that I had been put to sleep to help me get better. This message still breaks my heart today when I read it.

I was pushed on a cart to an anesthesia room and told what was going to happen and what the risks were.

I continued to cry and begged the doctors not to let me die.

There were three NHS workers there and one of them called Kate held my hand and stroked my arm while I was in an induced coma.

I thought to myself: this could be it and I might never wake up.

Then I counted to three.

Sergio sat down with Darren Buttrick while he was in a coma
Sergio sat down with Mr. Buttrick while he was in a coma

I later found out that while I was in a coma, a nurse called Sergio would sit with me and tell me about how my wife called and transmitted her love.

Hearing this now makes me cry and realize how much the nurses and doctors went out of their way to support me.

After about five days in the ICU, I had started to improve.

They tried to take me off the ventilator, but I had a bad reaction and they had to calm me down and re-ventilate me.

Once the sedation wore off, I woke up and immediately put my hand to my mouth to try and pull this stuff that felt like a brick down my throat.

A nurse told me to stop and reassured me that everything was fine. Looking around I saw a lot of nurses and doctors fully dressed, head to toe in PPE.

At least 10 other patients were around me lying on their backs in a coma, on ventilators, with machines ringing continuously.

Darren Buttrick, seen after returning home from hospital
Mr. Buttrick, seen after returning home from hospital

The next two days were difficult. I didn’t feel like I was sleeping. The clock was beside me and I watched every minute go by.

I was scared, unwell, and uncomfortable.

One night I woke up very agitated, but there was a wonderful nurse called Dawn sitting next to me holding my hand.

She told me not to worry – that I was without a ventilator and on oxygen and that I was going through the worst.

I cried.

Dawn left me Facetime my wife and it was so emotional.

Darren Buttrick with his wife Angela
Darren Buttrick with his wife Angela

Eventually the nurses made me eat again (jelly and ice!) And use a Zimmerframe.

I was sent to a very dependent neighborhood and two days later I returned home.

Over the next two weeks, I rested and gradually built up my strength and mood.

But I would go to bed at night and say a prayer to myself.

“Please my God let me wake up in the morning,” I said.

I hated closing my eyes and falling asleep because I was afraid my breathing would stop and I was no longer there.

At the end of April I got a call from the NHS asking if I would agree participate in plasma donations.

They explained how I would help them and others in this trial. It was obvious to me – I had been saved and now wanted to give back.

Darren Buttrick says he is grateful to the NHS for saving his life
Mr Buttrick says he is grateful to the NHS for saving his life
Each donation can give antibodies to up to three patients
Each donation can give antibodies to up to three patients

I went to the NHS Blood and Transplant building in Birmingham and it was a good experience – it didn’t hurt.

They said I was only the second person to donate COVID-19 antibodies to them.

I have now donated seven times, and will continue to raise awareness and donate plasma as long as I am told my antibodies are high enough to continue donating.

Darren Buttrick is UK's most prolific COVID-19 blood plasma donor
Mr Buttrick is the UK’s most prolific COVID-19 blood plasma donor

I’m told that each donation can give up to three coronavirus patients much needed antibodies to help their bodies fight the disease.

If my actions help save one more life or prevent others from experiencing what I have done, then I am doing my part to give back to those who have loved, cared for and saved me on this very dark day in March.

NHS workers are my saviors, my angels and I am very grateful for what they have done for me and my family.


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