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Collier Row coronavirus patient home after 71 days: ‘They didn’t think he would make it’

PUBLISHED: 16:56 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 18 June 2020

Steve and Gemma hug as he is clapped out of Queen's Hospital, Romford on Wednesday June 17. Picture: Gemma Attfield

Steve and Gemma hug as he is clapped out of Queen's Hospital, Romford on Wednesday June 17. Picture: Gemma Attfield

Gemma Attfield

A coronavirus patient has recovered after 59 days in an induced coma and two days on the high dependency ward at Queen’s Hospital, during which time his wife was called in to say goodbye.

A magical moment for the family: A magical moment for the family: "Our dog, Jinny, can’t stop staring at him, trying to work out where he’s been!" said Gemma. The only family member not to have seen Steve for whole 71 days. Picture: Gemma Attfield

Steve Attfield, 50, a warehouse manager from Collier Row, first complained of a backache in early April. Over the next few days his breathing got worse and he developed a temperature.

He was admitted to Queen’s Hospital, run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, on Wednesday, April 8, then moved to intensive care over the Easter weekend.

Steve’s wife, care assistant Gemma, said: “It was not Good Friday for us. Steve texted me in the morning to say he was feeling better but the next thing I knew he was in an induced coma in intensive care.

“About a week later I was called in to say goodbye to him as he had multiple organ failure and they didn’t think he was going to make it. It was the most horrible experience of my life. The staff were brilliant, everyone from the security guard on the door, and the entire intensive care team.

Steve placing his sticker on the Tree of Life. Picture: Gemma AttfieldSteve placing his sticker on the Tree of Life. Picture: Gemma Attfield

“A lovely doctor was really good at explaining everything to me. His oxygen levels went up and he improved slightly while I was there, the doctor said it was because I was there talking to him. That meant so much.”

In all, he also spent 10 days on a normal ward.

Now Steve is home but the road to recovery is not over yet but Gemma assures us he’s getting stronger and stronger every day.

She said: “We didn’t know what to do when he first got home, we just sat looking at each other. Our dog, Jinny, also can’t stop staring at him, trying to work out where he’s been!”

Sons Joe and Ryan with Gemma and Steve at their wedding, 18 months ago. Picture: Gemma AttfieldSons Joe and Ryan with Gemma and Steve at their wedding, 18 months ago. Picture: Gemma Attfield

Steve added: “It’s really nice to be home with the family. I hadn’t seen the boys the whole time and I was reunited with them a few days before I was discharged when the physiotherapy team took me outside for the first time.”

Gemma and Steven only married 18 months ago, just before Gemma turned 40. They’ve been together for 24 years.

The family were surprised that Steve was so badly affected by the virus, being fit and healthy with no real underlying health issues.

Gemma said they thought that if either of them was to get the disease, it would be her through her job.

They took real precautions to stay safe as the pandemic reached its peak because Steve has a disabled dad.

“Nobody that we knew had come into any danger or any contact, if anyone was going to get it, we thought it would’ve been me,” explains Gemma.

Steve is just one of more than 1,500 patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 who, during the pandemic, have recovered and been sent home from the trust’s two hospitals, Queen’s in Romford and King George in Goodmayes. This includes 66 people in the past week.

Gemma said: “I can’t praise the hospital and all the staff enough, everyone was absolutely amazing. When he was in an induced coma I didn’t speak to him for eight weeks, and Heather McCarthy from the intensive care team was brilliant. She was calling me all the time with updates and even called to check on him now he’s home.

Steve left hospital yesterday (Wednesday, June 17) and placed a bee on Queen’s Hospital’s “Tree of Life” - each bee represents someone who has recovered from coronavirus at the hospital.


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