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Royal Papworth patient’s plea after terrifying Covid-19 battle



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A cystic fibrosis patient is recovering from coronavirus at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge after the “scariest” moment of her life.

Erica Donnelly, a cystic fibrosis sufferer who has survived Covid-19. Picture: Royal Papworth Hospital
Erica Donnelly, a cystic fibrosis sufferer who has survived Covid-19. Picture: Royal Papworth Hospital

Despite shielding since last March, Erica Donnelly became critically unwell with Covid-19 and was admitted to hospital, but has fought back.

As a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient, Erica is considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ from SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19.

CF is a genetic condition which, like coronavirus, affects the lungs and their ability to function correctly.

Even before 2020, it was essential that people with CF wore masks in hospitals and took precautions to distance themselves from others with the disease, as they were more susceptible to infection.

Erica, 39, started to feel unwell earlier this month and was brought to Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge – where she is normally treated for her ongoing cystic fibrosis – from her home in Southend, needing ventilator support to turn around her falling oxygen levels.

Erica said: “My family were told to prepare for the worst. I have never been so scared, but at the same time I have never had so much love, support and care.

"I’ve been shielding for almost a year and although my partner works, he is mainly based outside and has been very, very careful.

"We have been OK until now but this new strain of coronavirus is so much more transmissible and it is finding those previously harder-to-reach people, like us, despite all the precautions we take.

“I got very sick and was blue-lighted in an ambulance from my home in Southend to Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

“At my worst moment, I said to one of the nurses ‘Is this it?’ I had to fight back and thankfully I have had the best care and, although I have a way to go, I am improving.

"I’m tired now just from eating but I’m grateful to be recovering and know for many families the outcome won’t be as good.”

Erica Donnelly with her partner, Ben. Picture: Erica Donnelly
Erica Donnelly with her partner, Ben. Picture: Erica Donnelly

Erica added: “I can’t put into words how thankful I am to be at Royal Papworth Hospital which is where I am normally looked after for my ongoing cystic fibrosis care.

“My doctor Helen Barker, one of the nurses, Nick, and all the staff who have looked after me have been absolutely amazing.”

Erica has some advice for the community at large: “My plea would be that people really need to do more than what they are doing to control the virus.

“We have been so careful and it still got us, so please everyone, act like you have the virus and follow the guidelines.”

Read more:

Music therapy helps Royal Papworth patient in his recovery

DNA test developed in Cambridge can identify secondary infections in Covid-19 patients in hours

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge prepares for peak of up to 500 Covid-19 patients on its wards

Teams at Royal Papworth and Addenbrooke’s hospitals in Cambridge star on BBC Two’s Surgeons: At the Edge of Life



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