Within days of displaying the telltale symptoms of a fever and persistent cough, Aled Davies went rapidly downhill and needed an urgent admission to hospital
Image: Glenn Dene)
A 30-year-old man has described his struggle with Covid-19 after being left “a couple of hours” away from death.
Aled Davies tested positive for coronavirus last August despite being double jabbed.
But as he spent most of his life in relatively good health with only a broken arm and the removal of a cyst blotting his NHS notes, he didn’t foresee what was to come.
Within days of displaying the telltale symptoms of a fever and persistent cough, the 30-year-old went rapidly downhill and needed an urgent admission to hospital.
His breathing deteriorated to such an extent that his lungs completely failed and left him just “a couple of hours” from death.
“My body had deteriorated so much that they phoned my parents to say that I probably wouldn’t come out of this alive. My lungs just couldn’t take the infection,” he told Wales Online.
Support worker Aled, who tested positive for Covid on August 26, said he was about to come out of his 10-day isolation when he woke up on September 4 unable to breathe.
“I didn’t lose my taste or smell, but I did have every other symptom including body aches, headaches, and I couldn’t sleep,” said Aled, whose entire family became unwell with the virus.
“The first day [I tested positive] I was alright, but then things got worse and worse until I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk and my lips turned blue.”
Soon after dialling 999, paramedics from the Welsh Ambulance Service arrived at his home in Tredegar and rushed him to The Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran where he was immediately given breathing support.
But after a couple of days in isolation on a Covid ward he needed to be taken to intensive care, placed on a ventilator and put in an induced coma.
“Obviously I was nervous about it. I knew how serious it was to be put on a ventilator but the doctors knew what was best for me,” he said.
After three days on a ventilator, hospital staff could see no improvement in Aled’s lung function so the decision was made to transfer him by ambulance to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London where he would be put on an ECMO machine.
The machine acted as an artificial lung for Aled while his own lungs were drained of infection and given a much-needed rest.
“They had to drain all the blood out of my body on the one side and push it back through the other side with fresh oxygenated blood because I wasn’t producing oxygen,” he explained.
“You have to meet a certain criteria to even go on an ECMO machine, so I was very lucky. It’s used as a last resort when all other options have failed.”
Thankfully Aled responded well on the machine and came off it four days later. He was then taken by air ambulance back to The Grange University Hospital for further treatment.
“I woke up [from the coma] on September 16 and I didn’t have a clue what had happened. If they’d told me I’d just been ventilated at The Grange and stayed there I would have believed them. I had stitches everywhere and a million tubes in me,” he recalled.
Aled, who spent his 30th birthday in hospital, admitted that he thought his parents would be far more unwell than him as they both have autoimmune disorders.
“There is no explanation as to why I had it so bad. I’ve always been prone to coughs and chest infections but I’ve never been diagnosed with any underlying conditions. My lungs took a hiding – they just couldn’t handle it.”
After a brief stint in Nevill Hall Hospital after his transfer from The Grange, Aled was discharged on September 27 – but he still had to learn to walk again and build up his strength.
“I lost three-and-a-bit stone in 10 days. I lost all the muscles in my legs and arms – they shrunk to nothing. I also had to walk with a stick. It took me half an hour to get up a flight of stairs when I got out,” he said.
“I bought a personal trainer plan so I’ve just been looking at that. Driving again was also a big relief. Some days I’m absolutely fine and getting my steps in, but other times I’m so tired I just need to stay in bed.”
Aled heaped praise on NHS staff throughout his coronavirus treatment and admitted he wouldn’t have survived without them.
“There’s a lot of frustration with the NHS, but the staff were incredible. I didn’t come across a single person who wasn’t helpful. Everyone at The Grange was class, the set-up was class and they just don’t get the credit they deserve. Staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and Nevill Hall were also amazing.”
Following his ordeal, Aled has urged people to follow government guidelines, wear masks and continue to get vaccinated, particularly with the new Omicron variant.
He is now looking forward to playing more gigs with his two rock bands, De’Lour and Sentry, and continue running Unit 13 Music Studio as he strives to make a full recovery.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.