Sue Martin whose husband Mal is still clinging to life after 25 days on a ventilator despite being given ‘zero chance’ of surviving coronavirus reveals he’s had a tracheotomy but ‘isn’t yet strong enough’ to be weaned off
- Sue Martin, from Cardiff, and her children were told to say goodbye to husband
- Mal has beaten all the odds and is still clinging to life after 25 days on ventilator
- Sue said he had tracheotomy to make him more comfortable and lessen sedation
- Mother-of-two said she is hopeful Mal, 58, will be weaned off the ventilator soon
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A mother-of-two told her husband had ‘zero chance’ of surviving coronavirus has revealed he’s had a tracheotomy but is not yet strong enough to be weaned off his ventilator.
Sue Martin, 49, from Cardiff, broke Radio 4 listeners’ hearts earlier this month as she revealed she was given 10 minutes to say a heartbreaking final goodbye to Mal, 58.
She told how their two children Hana, 16, and William, 13, vowed to make him proud as they said what they believed to be their final words to their father.
Fighter Mal has now spent 25 days on a ventilator, and Sue said she hopes the tracheostomy will make him more comfortable and lessen his sedation.
Sue Martin, 49, from South Wales, previously told listeners of Radio 4’s Today programme about her husband Mal’s, 58, dramatic deterioration after suffering from coronavirus, and how she rushed her children to hospital to say goodbye to them
Writing on Twitter yesterday, she explained: ‘Mal has had his tracheotomy today. Otherwise no real improvement and still incredibly weak but hopefully will now be more comfortable and will be on less sedation,’ followed by the hashtag #keepgoingmal.
She wished love to ‘everyone going through the same thing’, adding: ‘Continued thanks to everyone in ICU caring for him.’
In a further tweet, Sue added that Mal isn’t off the ventilator because he isn’t strong enough to be weaned yet, but medics hope the tracheotomy will give him more time.
Earlier this week Sue and Mal’s daughter Hana gave a brave interview recalling the awful hospital visit, saying: ‘The state that he was in, it was just horrible to see my dad like this. He was swollen, his hands swollen, you could see his arteries, his veins.’
Writing on Twitter yesterday, she explained: ‘Mal has had his tracheotomy today. Otherwise no real improvement and still incredibly weak but hopefully will now be more comfortable and will be on less sedation,’ followed by the hashtag #keepgoingmal’
Speaking about her father’s tracheotomy, she told Radio 1’s Newsbeat: ‘At this point I will take anything to just hear his voice or see him again.’
The 16-year-old also recalled her final conversation with her father as they spoke over FaceTime hours before he was placed on a ventilator.
What is a tracheotomy?
According to the NHS, a tracheostomy is a surgical opening in the wall of the trachea (windpipe) to facilitate ventilation. The term for the surgical procedure to create this opening is tracheotomy.
The opening is usually maintained by use of a tracheostomy tube.
A tracheostomy may be created for a number of reasons – including to deliver oxygen to the lungs when a person is unable to breathe normally after an injury or accident.
Or it can be created because their muscles are very weak.
It can also allow a person to breathe if their throat is blocked – this can be caused by a swelling, a tumour, or something stuck in their throat and to reduce the risk of food or fluid going into the lungs.
She said: ‘He said he’d make it through as it wasn’t his time. It was at that point calling him and then realising this could be the last time we ever speak to him.’
But as Mal clings to life, the family are now focused on recovery and discussing how to help him survive without ventilation.
Hana revealed: ‘It is the first time I’ve believed he can make it through. I don’t think we could have asked for any better news considering the situation. Maybe we can even FaceTime.’
Her mother Sue tweeted to reveal her husband was taking ‘baby steps’ forward, saying: ‘I know it’s going to be very slow and tough progress but it’s progress. Baby steps forward is all we can hope for. Day 21 ventilator for Mal, too weak to wean so tracheotomy early this week.’
Mal, a diabetic, became unwell with symptoms of coronavirus on 19 March, but she believed that he would pull through because he was ‘very, very healthy’ and fit.
But after 10 days, he became progressively worse, and Sue called for an ambulance on 29 March, with Mal walking out the door alongside paramedics.
Hours later, she received a devastating phone call telling her that Mal was so unwell he would need to be put on a ventilator and he had a 50 per cent chance of survival.
Earlier this week Sue and Mal’s daughter Hana gave a brave interview recalling the awful hospital visit, saying: ‘The state that he was in, it was just horrible to see my dad like this. He was swollen, his hands swollen, you could see his arteries, his veins’
As his health continued to deteriorate, Sue, Hana and William were rushed to the hospital and given 10 minutes with Mal to say their goodbyes.
The family were gowned up in layers of protective clothing, and screens were put around his bed, with Sue and her two children saying their final words to Mal.
Mal, chairman for a recruitment firm, and Sue, communications manager at department for transport, got married in September 1996, and have now been together for 28 years.
He founded recruitment firm Time 4 Recruitment in 2001, with the strapline ‘the agency that cares’.
Mal, chairman for a recruitment firm, and Sue, communications manager at department for transport, got married in September 1996, and have now been together for 28 years
Sue said her family has been ‘overwhelmed’ by all the support they’ve received from around the world since sharing their story
Mal is a type 2 diabetic and suffered a heart attack four years ago, but despite that Sue said he lived a ‘very, very healthy’ life.
Hanna shared a warning with the public about the importance of following the government’s guidelines.
She said: ‘The virus doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, how healthy you are.’
Sue added that the family has been ‘overwhelmed’ by all the support they’ve received from around the world since sharing their story.
‘Thousands of lovely, caring and hopeful messages from people all rooting for Mal. I’m just sorry I can’t reply to every one of them,’ she told BBC Radio 4 last week.
What is a ventilator and how is a patient weaned off it?
A machine that helps people breathe. It puts oxygen directly into patients’ lungs and removes carbon dioxide from them.
Ventilators are used to help a person breathe if they have lung disease or another condition that makes breathing difficult.
They can also be used during and post-surgery.
A breathing tube connects the ventilator machine to your body. One end of the tube is placed into the lung’s airways through your mouth or nose.
In some serious cases, the tube is connected directly to the windpipe through a small cut in the throat.
Surgery is needed to make the hole in the neck. This is called a tracheostomy.
CAN VENTILATORS HELP SAVE LIVES OF THOSE WITH CORONAVIRUS?
Two-thirds of coronavirus patients in the UK who need to be hooked up to a ventilator will die from the illness, official NHS data suggests.
A report from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Center (ICNARC) found ventilated patients succumb to the virus 66.3 per cent of the time.
That is double the mortality rate of non-virus patients who were put on breathing support between 2017 and 2019, before the outbreak.
The NHS is still 22,000 ventilators short of the estimated 30,000 it will need during the peak of this crisis, which has infected almost 34,000 Britons.
The high death rate has led some doctors to question whether some critically ill COVID-19 patients are being put on ventilation ‘for the sake of it’, when the machine could be spared for a healthy person with a higher chance of survival.
It comes after MailOnline revealed volunteers working at the NHS Nightingale super-hospital in London were given the stark warning that 80 per cent of patients on ventilators could die.
‘The truth is that quite a lot of these individuals [in critical care] are going to die anyway and there is a fear that we are just ventilating them for the sake of it, for the sake of doing something for them, even though it won’t be effective. That’s a worry,’ one doctor told The Guardian.
The ICNARC report found that for critically ill patients aged between 50 and 69, the mortality rate is just over 40 per cent.
People with pre-existing health conditions are thought to be at greater risk of developing severe symptoms because of their weakened immune systems.
But the ICNARC report found people with severe underlying health woes were just 10 per cent more likely to die if they fell seriously ill with COVID-19 than otherwise healthy people.
The document also found that most coronavirus patients in intensive care were male, 71 per cent of all cases.
HOW DOES WEANING WORK?
Weaning is the process of reducing the ventilator support which may be done quickly or over days to weeks.
It is more complex and hard for the patient if they have been on the ventilator for a long time. Relatives can be a great source of comfort during this time, and can be at the bedside to encourage the patient.
This can be very tiring and the ICU team will draw up a programme of exercises and ensure they get the right nutrition (food) to help.
When the medical staff are happy the process of discharge from the ICU will begin.
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