Dad, 40, returns home after spending nearly a year in hospital battling Covid

·2-min read
Andrew Watts is clapped out by staff as he leaves hospital  (Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust)
Andrew Watts is clapped out by staff as he leaves hospital (Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust)

A dad-of-two who was described by doctors as “one of the sickest Covid patients we’ve ever seen” has returned home after spending nearly a year in hospital.

Andrew Watts, from Bexley, was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital with Covid pneumonia after falling ill on Christmas Day last year.

The black cab driver spent a total of eight months in the intensive care unit (ICU) - one of the longest stays for any patient ever at the hospital.

After a five-week induced coma and a life-threatening lung collapse in February, doctors called Andrew’s family to let them know that they were considering turning his life support machine off.

“A week before Christmas 2020, I started to feel ill,” Andrew said. “I wasn’t eating and I was losing weight, but I thought it was just the anxiety getting to me.

“When I was admitted to hospital with Covid I initially responded well to treatment, but then my oxygen levels started to drop and I was taken for a CT scan.

“That was when I was told that I had a pneuomothorax, which is a split on the lung.”

He continued: “I was on my own as this was the height of Covid, with no visitors allowed, so it was a lot to take in.

“By this point I was crying my eyes out, on the phone to my sister Hannah and my wife Hayley, but I didn’t want to tell my mum or my dad. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them.”

Being on a ventilator in ICU for so long meant that Andrew had to learn to talk and walk again, and he has begun rehabilitation with a physiotherapist.

Prior to falling ill with Covid, Andrew had also been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lymph node cancer, but had been in remission since Autumn 2020.

“I kept thinking ‘why me?’,” says Andrew. “It was very hard to stay positive. But I remembered how when I was going through my chemotherapy I was told to look forward, set myself little goals and when I’d achieved them set myself another one. So that’s what I did.”

Hospital staff lined the corridor of Andrew’s intensive care ward on October 21 to applaud him as he left the building.

Dr Dan Harding, a consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the hospital, said: “We are all really proud and pleased that Andrew has finally been able to go home after 10 months in hospital.

“He was one of the sickest Covid patients we’ve seen, so to see him walking out of the hospital with his family was a very happy and emotional day for me and all the other staff involved in his care.”

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