Coronavirus: NHS lung patient pleads 'stay home for terminally ill people like me'

6 April 2020, 19:36

By Matt Drake

A terminally ill man who needs a ventilator to survive is pleading with people to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Andy Cleaver, 40, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, has lived with a terminal lung disease since 2014 and is being treated in Royal Papworth Hospital.

He has had problems with his lungs from birth, but in 2014 he nearly died when suddenly he fell into a coma for a month.

Only months later Andy said he took a step backwards as he was told he would have to go into a second coma and might not survive, but thanks to his "inner-strength and determination" he managed to pull through.

Now he needs 24-hour oxygen, a ventilator while he sleeps and has been told he may never eat or drink again.

Andy claims to have seen hospitals shift to accommodate people in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic and fears that if people do not stay home then terminally ill patients, such as himself, could be at risk.

He says his ward was emptied because the hospital wanted to decrease the chance of cross-contamination, and fears other people like him might not be able to access time with the equipment if the virus cases continue to rise.

Andy Cleaver has lived with a terminal lung disease since 2014
Andy Cleaver has lived with a terminal lung disease since 2014. Picture: LBC

In a message to LBC News, Andy said: "This is a message to try and reduce the pressure on the NHS. A message to the minority who may not get this social distancing.

"Myself, I'm receiving life-saving hospital treatment right now. You have to remember that hospitals are not just dealing with Covid patients right now.

"Now people out there of all ages need beds. If beds are full of corona patients then it could mean patients like me or family members will miss out on treatment.

"I'm sure a family member or someone you know in the past had vital hospital treatment. Ask how you would feel if one of your family members had a diagnosis now in this time and there could be a chance there is no hospital bed for you or them to get the treatment they need.

"Other patients with long-term illnesses need treatment all year round as well. This is the reason we must stay at home and stop the spread of coronavirus.

"So people with a life-threatening illness can get the best treatment they can."

Andy then went on to praise the efforts of NHS staff at the Royal Papworth.

His vital message comes as the death rate has risen by 439 in the UK, bringing the total to 5,373.

Covid-19 attacks the respiratory system meaning people with underlying health conditions are more at risk of contracting the virus.

Prof Whitty said it was "critical" for the NHS to always have an excess of available critical care beds during the fight against coronavirus.

He told a press briefing: "Our principal aim is to ensure the gap between the number beds available for intensive care and those that are needed is always in a situation where we have some room to spare.

"And if we end up in a situation where we have more ICU beds at all times during this epidemic than we absolutely need to deal with Covid and other areas, that will be a success.

"That is something which is critical for our overall aim. What we would like to see is some headroom between what we need and what we have available at any given time, both for Covid and other conditions."

Mr Raab said the building of additional NHS Nightingale hospitals in areas such as Bristol, Harrogate and Birmingham was about ensuring there was a spread of critical care beds across England.