A grandad who spent a fortnight in a coma as he battled Covid-19 is inviting hospital staff to a renewal of his wedding vows.
Ian Jameson, from Hersden near Canterbury, began suffering flu-like symptoms in March. But a week after he fell ill, the 50-year-old's condition deteriorated and his wife Gail rang 999.
Ian was rushed to the QEQM hospital in Margate, but within an hour of arriving doctors placed him in an induced coma, in intensive care.
He remained comatose for two weeks to aid his body's recovery, but suffered setbacks when his kidneys failed and he needed dialysis.
Gail kept in constant touch with medical staff, who passed messages to her husband - even when he was unconscious.
“I would ask them if he would be coming home, and they just couldn’t answer," she said. "One minute it felt like we were making progress, then there would be something else and we would go backwards again.
“It meant so much that they passed on my messages, so I was able to tell him I loved him every single day.”
"I was definitely scared, and my family were so worried..."
After five weeks spent fighting Covid-19 in hospital, Ian was finally allowed to go home.
He said: “I can’t remember waking up, just bits and bobs like the nurses clearing my throat and changing my breathing tube. It started to dawn on me how ill I had been.
“Being able to video call my wife was fantastic, and once I started talking to her every day it gave me a real boost and an incentive to hurry up and get better so I could go home and see her.”
Staff lined the corridors to clap Ian, as he finally made his way out of hospital after his lengthy recovery. He was reunited with Gail outside the hospital entrance, where she welcomed him with banners.
“It was so emotional to see him come out of those doors," she said. “When he went in the ambulance I didn’t expect him to be in a coma an hour later. If we had left it any later it could have been a very different ending."
Ian now hopes to celebrate his recovery by renewing his wedding vows with Gail next year - and plans to invite the medics who helped nurse him back to health.
“The team in ITU saved my life," he said. “There is so much doom and gloom and it’s awful to see so many people have lost their lives.
“But I survived and I wanted to let people know you can survive the coronavirus.
“The experience has made me think of things differently, and I feel differently about life. We’ve been married 23 years and I want to celebrate that and the fact that I am still alive, thanks to those very special people at the hospital.”
Ian, who runs a maintenance firm, has already been reunited with some of the medical team on Skype, when he was able to thank them personally for their care.
He said: “I still get tired very easily, and I still get breathless but I am here and that is all thanks to them.
“I remember being in the ambulance and the paramedics talking to each other, but when I got to the hospital and they said they were going to have to put me under, it was a bit hard to take in.
“I called Gail and told her and I am sure she thought I was mucking around at first. But then the doctor came on the phone and explained it to her and it really hit home.
“I was definitely scared, and my family were so worried. I think there were a lot of tears in the family - you hear so many stories of people who go on ventilators and don’t come off them so they were frightened about what would happen.”
Gail has also thanked the ITU team for caring for helping Ian beat the coronavirus.
"No amount of money could ever thank them," she said. "They kept him alive and they put their lives at risk for other people. Doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, the ward clerk - they are all fantastic.”