A PREVIOUSLY healthy man who was almost put into an induced coma after he contracted Covid-19 has thanked NHS staff for saving his life – and warned people not to get complacent just because the UK has approved a vaccine.

Mike Carroll, 59, was only released from Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Wednesday, and said he was close to being put in a coma after his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low while he was in the Intensive Care Unit.

Mike, a charity fundraiser who lives with his partner Jacqui near Worcester city centre, started to display symptoms last month, on November 6.

He said: “In the morning I started coughing unbelievably badly, and I knew it wasn’t normal so I booked a test at the county hall drive through and that came back positive.

“When I was back at home I started to feel quite ill - I had a temperature and was coughing, so we called out the paramedics who told me I had an extremely high temperature.

“We weren’t overly concerned at this point because we thought we might be able to bring my temperature down.”

But a few days later Mike’s condition deteriorated rapidly.

He became incoherent and his partner said he started to discuss things that didn’t make sense, including talking about looking for a lighthouse.

Paramedics were called and within half an hour Mike’s oxygen levels had dropped dangerously low and he was taken to Worcestershire Royal on November 14.

At first, Mike was taken to the respiratory unit, but was transferred to the ICU the next day after his breathing and oxygen levels deteriorated further.

He was then put onto a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP), a type of non-invasive ventilation.

Mike said: “I remember having what I and another nurse called the ‘astronaut helmet’ on, which was the hood of the CPAP breathing apparatus attached to me.

“It was extremely uncomfortable; it felt like it was choking me every 30 seconds.

“At one point I was 100 per cent reliant on the oxygen and could not produce my own.

“I can remember really struggling for breath, you’re not sure how long you need to gasp.

“The staff were very close to putting me on a ventilator and into an induced coma, but fortunately managed to just avoid it.”

Mike was given a blood plasma transfusion from the blood of someone who had recovered from Covid-19, which has antibodies to the virus that causes the infection.

The transfusion removes blood cells, leaving behind plasma and antibodies.

He says this was the “turning point”.

“I was still very short of oxygen, and it wasn’t until November 18 when they managed to get my oxygen level requirement from 60 per cent to 45," he said.

“After that, everything was very gradual, slowly but surely reducing the amount of oxygen I needed from the machine.”

After his condition improved, Mike was able to leave the ICU, one week ago.

He was transferred to the recovery ward where the hospital staff kept reducing his oxygen requirements until he could support himself.

On leaving the ICU, Mike said: “I was so relieved when I no longer needed the CPAP, but it did its job and saved my life.”

After a period spent in the recovery ward, undergoing physio, Mike was able to return home on Wednesday, December 2.

“I’m relieved to be home, because I have the comfort of my own home, but I sill have to take injections to keep my blood thin so I don’t get clotting, and also take other medication,” he said.

Mike, who will have follow-up checks at the hospital in several weeks time, and still has some breathing difficulties, said he ‘would struggle to walk 500 yards’ and isn’t sure how long exactly it will take him to recover fully.

“I’m still very much in the recovery process but we’re going the right way; I’m just taking it day by day at the moment.”

Mike said the only reason he is here today is because of the staff at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

“I can’t find enough words to thank them,” he said. “They are amazingly dedicated people, it’s just beyond words really what they have done for me, and they were amazing at keeping my family and my partner Jacqui updated.

“They kept everybody informed and they were honestly amazing.

“It was very emotional leaving on Wednesday – they gave me a bell to leave the ward which was extremely emotional, it was recognition of surviving.”

Mike said he hopes his story will continue to highlight the seriousness of the virus to others.

“I feel extremely grateful to survive, but when I was on the recovery ward unfortunately one of the gentlemen I was next to for four days didn’t make it," he said.

“Another man also came onto the ward and his wife, who also had Covid, was in the ICU and she passed away.

“I think the recovery ward is where it hits home, and shows how serious this is.

“This virus is still here and the battle isn’t won yet.

“It’s great news they’ve developed a vaccine, but there’s still a long way to go – people shouldn’t get complacent.”