Frontline NHS worker makes full recovery after proposing to girlfriend from deathbed

Caroline Allen
Contributor
NHS worker Paul Skegg walking out of intensive care. (SWNS)

A frontline NHS worker has made a miraculous recovery after suffering a complication of the coronavirus.

Believing he was on his deathbed, radiographer Paul Skegg, 42, decided to propose to his girlfriend via his tracheotomy tube in Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent.

The COVID-19 complication – thought to be one of the first of its kind in the UK – meant Skegg suffered total muscular paralysis of his whole body.

He proposed to his girlfriend, Katy Lavender, on FaceTime, and to nobody’s surprise her answer was a resounding yes.

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The 42-year-old suffered a complication of COVID-19. (SWNS)

Lavender, who works as a radiographer at a different NHS trust, said yes in front of all of the ITU (intensive therapy unit) staff eagerly looking on and waiting for her reply.

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Skegg fought the virus for 11 days in intensive care before making a full recovery and being allowed to return home to see his now fiancée.

Dr Jonathan Kwan, divisional medical director at the Kent hospital, said: “He thought he was in his last leg and he took a deep breath and mouthed the proposal through his tracheotomy tube.

“To no one's surprise, Katy accepted to the immense delight of all the ITU staff looking after him.

“It was an extraordinary happy occasion to otherwise sweaty hard-slog routines of ITU.”

Skegg, who has worked for the NHS for 24 years, walked out of intensive care to a guard of honour and massive round of applause from fellow NHS workers.

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He was admitted into hospital on 3 April with what turned out to be a complication of the coronavirus known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The very rare complication causes the body’s immune system to attack its nerves. It starts with a tingling sensation or weakness and can lead to total body paralysis.

Dr Kwan believes it to be the first case of the condition in Kent and possibly in the whole country.

The doctor praised the critical care team in charge of looking after Skegg throughout his time in intensive care, describing their therapy throughout his illness as “groundbreaking”.

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In order to treat Skegg’s complication, the treatment involved an immunoglobulin infusion, a plasma extract from blood donations supplied by the National Blood Transfusion Service.

“Without this, Paul might have been on the ventilator for much longer. His rapid recovery is just short of a miracle,” Dr Kwan said.

“Today, we lined the corridor for one of our own and clapped this front-line NHS staff home following a 16-day stay at Darent Valley Hospital.”