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Covid-19 patient who broke record for length of time on artificial lung at Royal Papworth can’t wait to hug his children



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A Covid-19 patient who spent months in an induced coma and 142 days in critical care at the Royal Papworth hopes to be reunited soon with his two young children after being discharged back to his local hospital.

Rajinder Singh, 38, is applauded as he leaves the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Rajinder Singh, 38, is applauded as he leaves the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

Rajinder Singh, 38, smashed the record for the longest time spent on ECMO, an artificial lung used a last hope for Covid patients when other forms of ventilation fail.

It oxygenates blood outside the body, allowing the patient’s lungs to recover while medical and nursing teams apply other treatments.

The average time spent on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) for Covid patients at the Cambridge hospital during the first sure of the virus was about 30 days. Rajinder spent 132 of his 142 days on critical care on the system.

A further nine days on a respiratory ward took his total inpatient stay at the Royal Papworth to 151 days before he was discharged, to applause from staff, on Thursday July 1.

Rajinder Singh, with Melanie Scott and Amber Garcia at the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Rajinder Singh, with Melanie Scott and Amber Garcia at the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

He will continue his recovery at his local hospital close to the Essex home he shares with his wife, Sukhpal, and two children, aged four and one.

“The staff have been so good to me,” said Rajinder, a double glazing fitter. “They have been kind, compassionate and helpful. They treated me like a member of their own family and I consider them my friends.

“Throughout my stay, my family were always spoken to and given updates on my condition, sometimes multiple times a day.

“I’m not going home yet but I’ll be a few miles from my home so hopefully it will be easier for my wife to visit me more often.

Rajinder Singh, 38, is applauded as he leaves the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Rajinder Singh, 38, is applauded as he leaves the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

“I feel stronger every day. I can’t wait to see my children and give them a hug. I’ve missed them so much.”

In January, Rajinder was put into an induced coma, from which he awoke in April. Hundreds of members of staff - from nurses to doctors and perfusionists to pharmacists - have cared for him at the Royal Papworth during his stay.

Jo-anne Fowles, consultant nurse for ECMO and critical care at the leading heart and lung hospital, said: “Before Covid-19, it would have been unfathomable to support a patient on ECMO for so long.

“For context, the average length of time for our patients supported on ECMO pre-Covid was about 14 days.

Rajinder Singh, 38, is applauded as he leaves the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Rajinder Singh, 38, is applauded as he leaves the Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

“During the first surge in spring 2020, the average time for our Covid-19 patients on ECMO was extended to more like 30 days, but some patients needed much longer.

“Mr Singh is the longest we have ever supported a patient on ECMO at Royal Papworth Hospital.

“During the past five months all the staff who work on critical care have got to know Rajinder well.

Rajinder Singh is transferred to his local hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Rajinder Singh is transferred to his local hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

“To see his condition improve to the point where we could discharge him to our colleagues on our respiratory ward and then back to his local hospital is wonderful.

“On behalf of everyone at Royal Papworth Hospital, we send our kindest regards to Rajinder and his family and wish him all the best in his recovery.”

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