Dad says 'you can live to tell the tale' after week in intensive care

A healthy father who was struck down by coronavirus says being strapped to a ventilator is ‘one of the most frightening experiences you can have’.

Matt Dockray, 39, developed a cough after attending the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on March 1 and ended up in intensive care after becoming increasingly unwell. Last month he pleaded with the nation from his hospital bed to ‘not be an idiot’ and to stay at home as much as possible to curb the spread of Covid-19.

After three weeks in hospital his family are relieved to have him back at their home in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Now in much better health, he has opened up about the ‘horrible, horrible experience’ of being on a ventilator and says many have ‘lived to tell the tale’.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain Matt said: ‘I know the doctors go through this and train for this but as an individual – it’s one of the most frightening experiences you can have.  It’s very lonely. you don’t have the emotional support from family that you rely on in your hardest times. it’s very, very hard.’

After arriving at hospital Matt says medics registered his oxygen levels and tried to get as much in his system as possible by using masks.

He says they try to get patients to a stage where their body retains that oxygen, meaning they are stabilised, but when that doesn’t work they are likely to be put on a ventilator – pumping breathable air in and out of the lungs.

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Matt added: ‘I was in an isolated room but could see the rooms opposite. There were people younger than me, older than me. This wasn’t a stream of 80, 90-year-olds coming in. There were young people, there were kids.

‘The doc started talking about putting me on a ventilator for support, not treatment, explaining it gives you a chance for your lungs to work – but it was clear it was getting worse.

‘What’s going on in your head is, you’ve got less than three weeks – how will you get better if there is no treatment, no cure. In my head that was the time to fight as much as you can. This is where you kick in and your spirit pulls you through.

Telling host Piers Morgan of his relief to be back at home ‘breathing and talking’, he said: ‘There’s people who have been on those ventilators for a lot longer and they’ve come out. They have lived to tell the tale.

Despite hearing of a 50:50 chance of recovery for intensive care patients, Matt shared a message of hope for any would-be sufferers.

He said: ‘There’s quite a few of us coming out now, getting clapped out the hospital. You can get back to normal but there’s still a long road to recovery. It takes about six to eight weeks, but you can sit here and tell the tale and you can fight this.’

As news broke of Prime Minister Boris Johnson being taken into intensive care with persistent coronavirus symptoms, veteran BBC journalist Andrew Neil took to Twitter to share a worrying statistic.

He said: ‘I’m told on good authority that after circa 10 days this virus either gives up and you recover with no damage done or it really decides to go for you and you have a 50:50 chance. The PM’s decision to work through his isolation will not have helped.’

But speaking on Good Morning Britain today senior minister Michael Gove said Johnson had ‘received some oxygen support’ at St Thomas’ Hospital in London but has not yet needed a ventilator.

He was taken in for tests on Sunday night as a ‘precautionary measure’ but his condition is said to have worsened yesterday.

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