A patient who survived COVID-19 has thanked Torbay Hospital staff for saving his life and strongly urged others not to ignore potential symptoms.

Maurice, 59, from Torquay, spent four weeks in hospital, run by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation, after being admitted as an emergency with coronavirus symptoms. He was later told by doctors he had been severely unwell and had to be transferred to intensive care where he had two ‘life threatening incidents’.

The senior engineering manager insisted on walking, rather than using a wheelchair, when he was discharged from his ward on Saturday, April 18. He was applauded along the corridor by staff who cared for him in honour of his fight to survive the dangerous virus.

Maurice paid tribute to the staff who saved his life.

As he walked out of Forrest Ward he said: “Thank you. You are a real team. You have helped me live again. Thank you so much.”

Speaking at the start of a long recovery back home, Maurice said: “I can’t praise the hospital and staff highly enough. They are the best. I’ve been cared for in many places. If I had the choice I’d always come to Torbay Hospital. I’d like to thank them all individually and some are my living angels for the special care I had.”

Maurice admitted to not taking Government warnings about coronavirus and his health seriously enough: “I was much too relaxed about coronavirus. I thought I was immune from it, or thought I was suffering from exhaustion.

“But what happened to me should act as a warning to people who don’t take this virus seriously. I ignored the symptoms of a very high temperature – I was burning up – and also had chronic diarrhoea, another typical symptom. The result was I nearly died twice and they contacted my next of kin twice as it was thought I would not survive.”

He said he could not remember a lot of what happened. But recalled being ill, deteriorating fast over night at home and having to call NHS111, before being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Maurice even said he was ‘lucky’: “I tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital. I was on a ventilator for 12 days in intensive care which helped me stay alive.

“The doctors told me recovery is 50% physical and 50% mind. I know that’s so true. Lots of questions, doubts and fears need to be discussed with loved ones and that will take time. I now find doing the simplest things exhausting, but I am one of the lucky ones.

“Without the morale-boosting attitude of all the staff and their genuine professional and caring nature I would have given in to COVID-19. The environment in the hospital is amazing. I was never dealt with as a procedure or process. I was treated and cared for as a person, rather than as a number - as Maurice.”

He praised the attitude and professionalism of trust staff: “The staff were happy and though there was a significant challenge from COVID-19, also worked as a great team and often you could hear laughter and banter.

“This lifted me and was good for the soul as well as the body. This includes all the cheerful cleaners, porters, the dieticians, speech and language teams, the doctors, nurses and health care assistants. They are miracle-makers. The physiotherapists gave me movement back to my listless body.”

Bethany Hutchinson, staff nurse on Forrest Ward said: “I am currently working on Forrest Ward and this brilliant man, Maurice, walked out of the ward after a month in hospital, including a 12-day stay in ICU.

“He beat coronavirus and was so grateful for his care and felt he could live again. He made me and my colleagues cry with happiness when he left.

“All we often see and hear are the bad outcomes and to see someone come through the other side so successfully and so gratefully was lovely to see and lifted all our spirits. It was our pleasure to care for the gentleman and get him home again.”

Maurice still faces a long recovery. He has temporarily lost the use of his left foot due to nerve damage and has very little energy and only shallow breathing. He is supported by follow-up care from NHS community support workers. He said he is ‘amazed by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, the aftercare and truly believes they are the best’.

He added: “This could so easily have been a funeral. I am so lucky to live near a brilliant hospital with brilliant staff. They saved me.

“All I want is for other people to remember it can affect anyone. Please don’t ignore potential symptoms like I did. I was a fool and tried to convince myself it was something else.”