John O’Neill, 42, from Essex, is ‘trapped in his body’ after being one in 50,000 to suffer an extreme reaction. His family say they aren’t anti-vax and don’t want their story to be hijacked for the campaign
A dad has become ‘trapped in his body’ after a stroke caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
John O’Neill, 42, from Essex, is one in 50,000 to suffer an extreme reaction to the Covid vaccine.
The IT engineer was hit with vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) only nine days after he received his first dose in May, the family wrote on a JustGiving page.
He lived with his 38-year-old wife Vicky and his kids, son Mason, 5, and daughter Freya, 9.
Vicky said: “He’s a nice, genuine guy who would do anything for anyone. “He was happy go lucky and a real family man.”
Vicky warns that her and John are not anti-vaccine and don’t wish for their story to be used to strengthen such arguments, reports EssexLive.
John has asthma, as does Mason, and this meant the O’Neill family were very cautious throughout the Covid lockdowns.
With a lung condition, John was deemed at higher risk if he caught the virus.
So when a vaccine became available earlier in 2021, John and Vicky were eager to get protected.
However, as an “IT guy”, Vicky said her husband had done some research about the AstraZeneca vaccine and was quite worried.
John had become concerned that his asthma put him more at risk of extremely rare blood clots as a result of the AZ vaccine.
“On the day we had the vaccine he said he’d have AZ and I’d have Pfizer, so that at least the children will have one of us,” Vicky explained.
“John gets very upset now, because what we were worried about has pretty much happened.”
In May, John was given his first dose of the AZ vaccine and like most people who get vaccinated, John had flu-like symptoms for a few days, which then disappeared.
But several days later John complained of feeling “extremely tired”, before experiencing “uncontrollable shivering”, sickness and pain across his eyes.
Paramedics initially thought the 42-year-old was just having a migraine, however, he continued to feel sick then lost vision in his left eye.
After he was taken to hospital on May 27, Vicky got the news that John had suffered from a stroke.
He was paralysed down the right-hand side of his body after having a clot in his brain and a blocked artery in the left side of his neck.
After being sent to the Royal London Hospital for surgery, doctors didn’t understand what was happening to John.
His blood was clotting in all of his main arteries and Vicky claims it was only at this point that doctors realised it could be linked to the AZ vaccine.
After spending a long period in intensive care, John returned home from hospital, but he was not the same man.
John has lost his vision in his left eye and has “significant” brain damage, so struggles to communicate.
Sometimes John knows what he wants to say, but his brain can’t get the words out.
Vicky says it’s like he’s trapped in his own body.
She explained: “He has significant brain damage, so has to be spoken to slowly.
“He can’t digest information in big groups of people or noisy places.
“He’s improving with his speech and is trying to put sentences together.
“He struggles with reading, writing, numbers and letters.
“He completely knows what he wants to say but his brain can’t process how to get the words out. He finds it frustrating.”
John has improved a lot since returning home thanks to therapy and can now walk on his right leg – which doctors feared they would have to amputate after blood clotted in its artery.
But he still cannot walk very far. The stroke has completely changed his and his family’s life.
Vicky says Mason and Freya are doing “very well”, considering what has happened to their dad, but that the stroke has been “extremely difficult” for the O’Neills as a family.
However, Vicky admits that she’s unsure how to feel about the situation.
“We’re not against the vaccine and we did want it. Even now, we’re unsure but we’re not against people having it.
“We feel extremely let down that the government hasn’t put anything into place for us, as our lives have been completely changed forever.
“How do you survive and keep going?
“I’ve got to be a mother to my children, a full-time carer for my husband and I have bills to pay. I need the support.”
Added to John and Vicky’s tough new life, the couple are still having to contend with the stresses of an ongoing pandemic.
As John was given the AstraZeneca, doctors are unsure how his body would react to other vaccines.
Alongside his asthma, this leaves the 42-year-old virtually unprotected from Covid.
John’s sister has set up a Just Giving page and Vicky admits she has been overwhelmed by the massive £16,376 that’s been donated so far.
“It’s been unbelievable, just unbelievable,” Vicky said.
“Me and my husband were extremely grateful but we find it hard to do things like this.
“We’ve always worked from the moment we came out of college.
“The amounts people are putting on at a time are just amazing and we can’t believe it.”
You can find out more about John’s story and can donate to his family on his Just Giving page.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.