COVID coma survivor leaves Basildon Hospital after 130 days

A Wickford man will never forget the horrors of last Halloween after he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Basildon Hospital with COVID-19. He wouldn’t return home for four and a half months.

Stuart Oakley, 55, was self-isolating at home after testing positive for COVID. Two days into his isolation he collapsed and his partner called an ambulance. And so began Stuart’s journey that, for the most part, he has no memory of as he was in an induced coma for two months.

When he woke he found that he was not only in hospital, but also in a different year – having missed Christmas and New Year.

Stuart said: “In hindsight I was feeling worse and should have phoned NHS 111. I could have got professional advice and might have avoided being in a coma for two months.

“I don’t like bothering people but if you are feeling ill, you should use the NHS 111 phone number. If I had, I may not have missed out on the time I did. I just want to urge people to play it safe, and call 111; it could save your life.”

One thing he was very sure about though was his positive experience during his recovery at Basildon Hospital. Stuart was quick to praise the staff who had looked after him.

“When I woke up from the coma, I didn’t know where I was, but I was being supported by a fantastic team. I couldn’t even lift a bed sheet from me if I was hot. If it wasn’t for the team I wouldn’t be here today.”

After two months in a coma, Stuart moved to a COVID ward for a further seven weeks and spent almost three weeks in Brentwood Community Hospital receiving rehabilitation to help him walk again.

Stuart knows there is a long road ahead for his recovery, but is now recuperating at home with the aid of oxygen. After the horrors of last Halloween he was at least home for an extra special Easter.

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Mick Ferris

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