A flight home from a work trip to Ireland nearly cost a Sussex man his life - but it wasn’t the flight that endangered him, it was a stranger’s cough.
Fraud investigator Richard Grant believes he picked up an infection on the aircraft which quickly led to him falling seriously ill.
But, he says, medics failed to diagnose his symptoms - and he ended up in intensive care after his partner Claire Hill rushed him to A&E at the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath.
He was later diagnosed with sepsis, a form of blood poisoning, and now wants to raise awareness of the condition which kills 44,000 people a year in the UK.
Richard, 39, who is still off work six weeks after his ordeal first began, now realises he is lucky to be alive.
He said: “It was absolutely horrific. I remember thinking ‘there is no way I can come through this’.”
He first felt unwell after the flight home from Ireland, but quickly went downhill and saw his GP when he couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed. “The GP said it was a virus,” said Richard.
He set off for work the following day but returned home.
“I was feeling quite disorientated with shortness of breath. The next day I was sick everywhere.”
He called the NHS emergency 111 number and staff there sent an ambulance to his home. But paramedics who checked him over also said he was suffering a virus. “They said the hospital couldn’t do anything and they left.”
But Richard’s worried partner Claire rushed Richard from their home in Bolnore, Haywards Heath, to the Princess Royal Hospital where he was admitted straight away and diagnosed with sepsis following blood tests.
He was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital where he spent three weeks battling the infection.
“I had never heard of sepsis before,” said Richard. “I was in quite a state. I had to go on dialysis, I was on oxygen and had loads of tubes in me.”
Partner Claire, said Richard, “told me there were times when she thought it was all over for me.”
But now, six weeks later, Richard says he is “85 per cent better.” The experience, he says, has opened his eyes.
“Now I see life as a big opportunity and you have to grab it and make the most of every single day. It is scary that life can be stubbed out so quickly.”
Initially, he says, he was ‘incredibly angry’ that there had been a failure to diagnose he was suffering from sepsis.
“Now I want more people to be made aware of it and its symptoms.”
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