West Sussex hospital’s longest-standing Covid patient takes positives from ‘horrific’ year - ‘I’m really glad I’m here’

“I’m really looking forward to the future and I’m really glad I’m here.”

Those were the words of Chichester mum-of-three Donna Morgan who is marking one year since the start of her ‘horrific’ battle with Covid-19.

According to her husband, Toby, Donna was the fourth patient to be admitted with the virus at St Richard’s Hospital in March 2020. She remained there for 92 days, becoming the hospital’s longest-standing Covid patient.

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Donna, 52, who spent most of her hospital stay in an induced coma, said: “I’m getting on well. It’s a very long process really.

Coronavirus patient, Donna Morgan, who was in a coma for weeks, applauded as she is discharged from St Richard's Hospital Chichester. Pic Steve Robards SR2006181 SUS-200618-143344001

“None of my limbs worked. I had to teach myself how to walk. All those things that you take for granted. Over Christmas and New Year, I was very unwell again. I had to have X-rays. My lungs were inflamed and they thought it was the cold weather. I’ve been maintaining contact with the consultant and the outreach team. I still struggle with my breathing and I have long-term headaches. I have two dogs and I try to do short walks every day.”

Donna and Toby had to let go of their pub, The Victoria Inn, in West Marden, to focus on Donna’s rehabilitation.

Reflecting on the last year, which has included finding a new home in West Ashling, Donna said: “I slept through a lot of it, whilst everyone was faced with this horrific pandemic and the lockdown. After waking up and coming out, everything has changed. We don’t have our pub any more, we don’t live where we used to live anymore. We’ve had to change our lifestyle as I couldn’t do stairs and I was still on the oxygen. Our life has changed quite dramatically.

“It’s been very sad not seeing my family. I haven’t seen my mum for nearly a year. I have a daughter in Essex and haven’t seen her.

Donna said her life has changed 'quite dramatically'

“My family and friends are very glad I’m here and they all look at their own lifestyle choices.

“I’ve started a Zoom group with the people I was in hospital with. There is about nine of us. Normally you would be invited back to the hospital and they would encourage counselling to talk about our experiences but, obviously we couldn’t.

“That’s the nice thing with lockdown, you’ve had time to not take things for granted. You can be at home and take time for yourself and your family and friends. Something good has come out of something quite horrific.”

Donna and Toby have both had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I am a strong advocate for getting your jab done,” Donna said. “I really encourage everybody to get their jab and stay positive and within the law and guidelines. We don’t want another wave.

“It’s not like a flu or cold. It’s sinister in how it has affected people in the after effects.”

Toby. who raised thousands of pounds to support the hospital whilst his wife was fighting for her life, has revealed what the money will be going towards.

He said: “We are at about £120,000 in total. The hospital requested some equipment for the intensive care unit, including a [£12,000] moto med, which is an exercise bike which you use lying down.

“Donna lost two stone of muscle when she was under.

“It is used to continually exercise the muscles so they have some sort of movement when they come back round.”

Toby said the ‘big project’ will be to help build a therapy garden for ICU patients, so that they can have visitors and be outdoors during their treatment.

“We were lucky enough to see Donna once when she was at St Richard’s and that’s when they brought her outside,” Toby said. “It will be amended so you can get a critical care bed into it.

“We’ve also always wanted to throw a big party for the staff. We are also doing a massive charity golf day on August 14.

“I am eternally grateful to the whole team for saving her life. I can’t say enough thank yous. We are so lucky to have the NHS.”

Toby said any additional funds would be gratefully received. To donate, or to find out how you can get involved in the fundraising events, please visit www.comeondonna.com.