'Hospital staff gave their all to save my life'

Pip Collick, wearing a green jumper and brown jacket, on his farm. He is looking at the camera with fields behind him.

Published on 29 September 2020

A grandfather whose heart stopped three times while he was in intensive care with coronavirus has thanked the medical teams who saved his life.

Farmer Pip Collick, 71, spent almost five weeks in an induced coma after being taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford suffering from a cough and high temperature.

Now recovering at home in Ruckinge, near Ashford, he paid tribute to the staff who were determined to keep him alive.

He said: “They tried everything in their armoury and they succeeded. They were just brilliant.

“I can’t fault anything in the hospital – they gave their all to save my life.” 

Pip, who runs a sheep, arable and beef farm, first developed a cough in late March, but tried over-the-counter medications rather than seeking medical advice.

But when his condition worsened, he called his daughter Katie, a nurse, who soon realised how sick he was – she dialled 999 after discovering he had a temperature of 39 degrees, and oxygen saturation of just 81 per cent. In a healthy adult it should be at least 94 per cent, and anything below 90 per cent is considered low. 

Pip was originally treated on a ward, but moved to intensive care after his condition worsened. Medics had to put him on a ventilator, and fitted a tube in his throat to help him breathe. He lost almost a third of his body weight, dropping from 15 stones to just over 10.

After a total of 38 days in intensive care, Pip was well enough to be moved and was transferred to Westview integrated care centre in Tenterden to recuperate further.

But he suffered another setback when his heart rate suddenly shot up and he had to be taken back to the William Harvey. 

Pip said: “My daughter phoned the intensive care team and even though Dr Jonathan Leung was on his way home he came to check me over.

“He went well beyond what you would expect. It is just incredible to think of the lengths everyone went to in looking after me. 

“I heard of a patient in America who recovered from coronavirus and was presented with a bill for a million pounds – that is the value of the care the staff at the William Harvey gave me.”

Finally, after more than 90 days away, Pip returned home at the beginning of July and has continued to improve, moving from needing a frame to walk, to crutches and now sticks. 

He is aiming to be walking without aids by Christmas.

Pip said: “I originally imagined I’d be able to come home and get straight back to work on the farm but I think in reality it will be at least a year. 

“I was fit and healthy before I went in and I thought coronavirus was something that happened to other people.

“I’m just so grateful to everyone who fought so hard for me.” 

Katie added: “Dad is made of tough stuff, and has true farmer grit and determination.

“That, and the great care he received from the many, many people who helped save his life, brought him home.”