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Man's relief as he returns home after fight for life


Recovery: Medics told Eugene Bell he may need help breathing until April

Recovery: Medics told Eugene Bell he may need help breathing until April

Recovery: Medics told Eugene Bell he may need help breathing until April

A man who spent 10 days in Londonderry's Altnagelvin hospital fighting for his life has said the impact of the coronavirus on him should serve as a wake-up call to others.

Eugene Bell (52) has no underlying health conditions, doesn't smoke, drinks only socially and regularly exercises at the gym - but medics have told him to expect to need help breathing until at least April or May.

Remarkably Mr Bell's recovery has exceeded expectations and he is now back at home with his partner, Paul McShane, although he still requires oxygen and is taking antibiotics and steroids to fight off the virus.

"This has been one of the most frightening experiences of my life and there were times I was really worried that I might not survive," he said.

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"Six days after I tested positive I was struggling so hard to breath my partner Paul rang for help. The nurse he was speaking to asked to speak to me and the minute she heard how I was breathing she told me she was sending an ambulance which arrived about 10 minutes later.

"I was scared that I might not get home again. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance staff prepared me for what would happened but even with that it was hard not to feel afraid. The doctor told me he was moving me to Intensive Care and that's where I was for the next 10 days."

Doctors told Mr Bell that there was a chance they would need to put him on a ventilator if his body didn't respond to the initial treatment within two hours. Thankfully this wasn't necessary.

He was discharged last week but remains under the care of community medical team.

He said: "I have recovered well and that is probably due to the fact that I am only 52 and I do look after myself but even so, this virus took a huge toll on me and that has been a real wake-up call for a lot of people.

"This is not a flu, it has been lethal for so many people and needs to be taken seriously."

Mr Bell added: "I couldn't begin to thank all the staff that looked after me while I was in the hospital. They were amazing and they just couldn't do enough for me.

"They are working 12-hour shifts that in reality are 13 or 14 hour shifts and they are doing that five days a week, making enormous sacrifices and we must never forget that."

Belfast Telegraph