A DAD who beat Covid-19 left hospital after a record 65 days on a ventilator.
Nursing staff applauded John Betts, 59 — who had been in a coma at Northampton General.
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He said: “I’m blessed to have come through this battle.”
The battling dad, 59, spent the longest known period on the intensive care machine of any coronavirus-hit Brit.
He repeatedly came close to death and his family was warned on four occasions that he might not make it through the night.
He finally left hospital on Thursday after waking up from an induced coma — similar to that endured by the husband of TV presenter Kate Garraway.
Masked hospital staff applauded as he left Northampton General Hospital — where he was admitted at the end of March — and was taken home.
In a powerful message to fellow virus sufferers, he said: “To anybody living through this horrific disease, stay strong. I’m blessed to have come through this battle and be back at home with my family.
“I’ve still got a long way to go and I know that rehabilitation could take up to six months but I have wonderful support around me.
“I am forever grateful to the staff and doctors at Northampton General.”
The business consultant was rushed into hospital on March 26 and was put in intensive care after testing positive for Covid-19.
He was sedated and put on a ventilator the next day as he was struggling to breathe.
His daughter Lauren Bedford, 23, and her husband Cameron, 25, were told four times to prepare for the worst.
Cameron, 25, said: “It has been an emotional rollercoaster. Initially when he went in they said they needed to run some tests, but hoped to get him in and out within two weeks.”
Lauren visited John in hospital the last time doctors thought he could die.
Cameron said: “Lauren went in to say, ‘Keep fighting’. He wasn’t awake at that point but sometimes a family member’s voice can help. He woke up two days later on April 16.”
John was finally taken off the ventilator on June 1.
Cameron saw the similarities with the plight of TV Kate’s stricken husband Derek Draper, 52.
He said: “They have got it a lot worse but I know the pain she must have been feeling.
“There can be issues around brain damage when people wake up from such a long time in a coma.
“He (John) had CAT scans and took around ten days to come round after the sedation — which is quite a long time.
“That was the most worrying point – thinking, ‘Is he going to wake up?’, and when he does, ‘Is he going to have some sort of brain damage?’.”
Mr Draper remains in a coma in hospital, almost three months after contracting coronavirus.
Lauren and Cameron have now moved in with John to help him recover. He lost 13kg (2st) during his illness and can now walk only 20 yards at a time.
Doctors think he will eventually be back to full health next March — a full year on from when he fell ill.
Dr Sonia Swart, chief executive of Northampton General Hospital said:
“Everyone in the hospital wishes John the very best as he leaves us to continue his recovery with his family.
“I want to pay tribute to all our staff for the care, compassion and dedication they have shown to John, and continue to show to each and every one of our patients.”
Last month an unidentified 35-year-old woman with Covid-19 recovered after 58 days on a ventilator at Southampton General Hospital.
Dr Sanjay Gupta, the hospital’s lead consultant for critical care, said:
“Suddenly she can communicate, whereas before she was so weak she could barely lift a finger to write anything.”
Dad-of-three George Clark, 61, spent 56 days on a ventilator at Ayr Hospital after being struck by the virus.
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