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Family reunite at a distance to make special donation

“Dad owes his life to the hospital staff. They never gave up.”

Faye Stapleton was able to see her father in person for the first time in almost two months, after she arrived at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) to donate tablet devices to the intensive care unit (ICU) which saved his life.

Brian Harvey, 69, was taken to the BRI on 21st March with COVID-19 symptoms and within 24 hours tested positive for the virus.

Due to the severity of the illness, Brian had to be taken to the ICU and put in a medically induced coma. He was in the coma for four weeks, during which time he had a tracheostomy so he could be kept ventilated easier, as well as receiving kidney dialysis.

On 12th April, the family received a heart-wrenching phone call from the hospital to say that Brian’s kidneys were failing and that he may not make it through the night. The family asked the medical staff not to give up.

The following day was Brian’s granddaughter Tallulah’s 9th birthday, and all she wanted was a cake so she could make a special wish. On 13th April, she made a wish for her grandad to get better, and it came true. That evening the family were told that Brian was making improvements.

The intensive care unit team began the process of bringing Brian out of the coma, but he wasn’t responding well and started experiencing blood clots in his lungs.

After another week of ups and downs, the nurses suggested that the family video call Brian, as he’d been able to bring his phone with him, and may be able to hear their voices. The family called and for the first time in over a month, Brian began to respond.

This inspired Faye to want to make sure other families have the same opportunity they had, to be able to stay connected with their loved one while they were receiving intensive care.

The family fundraised over £6,000 to buy electronic tablet devices which will allow patients to make and receive video calls from home.

Brian has now been moved off of the intensive care unit and on to ward A400, where he is well enough to call his family for himself.

“We never thought we’d see his name come up on our phones again,” explained Faye.

“All of this fundraising has been done in his name; it’s all been for him. Now when I speak to him, he tells me how proud he is. He’s a miracle.

“I can’t thank the hospital staff enough, they are all absolute heroes in my eyes. Dad owes his life to the hospital staff. They never gave up.”

Brian, who’s been dubbed ‘The Teflon Man’ by his medical team, is now receiving a lot of physiotherapy and rehabilitation work, to build his muscle strength back up and help him to walk, talk and eat again.

Becky Russell, ICU sister at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, said:

“Mr Harvey was desperately unwell with the Covid-19 infection, spending over five weeks in our care, making him one of our longest staying patients on ICU with the virus.

“It’s a real boost for the team when patients are well enough to be discharged to the wards, and later sent home.   

“During Mr Harvey’s stay, visiting restrictions meant his family couldn’t be with him at what has been a very stressful and emotional time. This prompted the family to raise money for electronic devices our team can use to aid communication between patients and their loved ones, for which we are very grateful.

“We’d like to wish Mr Harvey all the best with his ongoing recovery, and hope he will be home soon.”