The father of a 42-year-old ambulance driver who nearly died after contracting COVID-19 has urged others to wear a facemask where possible after the ‘worst weeks’ of his and his daughter’s life.
On Christmas Eve the family of Emilie Sanderson, from Moulton Chapel, including partner Simon, were told to prepare for the worst after the keen equestrian was hospitalised with the virus and placed in an induced coma.
But after 43 days on a life support machine she’s showing signs of recovery and this week is being taken off a ventilator for an hour a day.
Mum Jayne Sanderson broke down in tears while shopping on Tuesday after receiving a text from Emilie, the first she and husband David had heard from their daughter since late November.
The family believe she contracted the virus while transporting a COVID-19 positive dementia patient who refused to wear a mask as part of her work for the Thames Ambulance Leisure Service, which does private work in Lincolnshire.
She started to feel unwell a few days afterwards and subsequently tested positive for the virus.
Her condition worsened and she was taken into intensive care at Peterborough City Hospital. David said Emilie posted on social media she was ‘very, very frightened as they’re going to put me in a coma’.
An infection picked up at the hospital worsened her condition.
Just before Christmas the family were told that her lungs were going into spasms and that if things didn’t improve there was nothing doctors could do for her.
“We expected that night to get a call,” a tearful David said of Christmas Eve.
“Then when we rang the hospital the next morning they told us she’d started fighting back and continued like that through Christmas Day.
“She really is a fighter.
“I’m not religious at all but her partner Simon’s family are and they all prayed for her and something happened.”
David, a Moulton Chapel parish councillor, contacted The Voice after hearing in the news on Tuesday that a number of supermarkets were looking to enforce the wearing of facemasks and that some people were opposed to it.
“We’re 95 percent sure Emilie caught it from that gentleman who didn’t wear a facemask but we don’t blame him as he didn’t know any other with his dementia,” said David (69). “Others should know the effect it can have on even healthy people.
“This has been the worst six weeks of my life.
“I want people to understand how important wearing a mask is. A very strong, young woman who loves country living nearly lost her life to this virus.
“Emilie’s a very caring person. She loves helping others and before working for the ambulance service she worked with children in care.
“The last time we saw her she told us she loved us and I can’t stop thinking about that moment.
“It’s been a terrible and upsetting battle.
“Those at Peterborough City Hospital have been fantastic too and we’ve been ringing them three times a day. Despite how busy they must be they’ve been happy to tell us how she’s doing.
“She can’t speak yet as she’s got a tracheostomy down her throat but she can give a thumbs up.
“Thanks to everyone who has helped her.”
Emilie’s friends, particularly those she knows from the local equestrian community, have started a Go Fund Me page to allow her to afford rehabilitation therapy.
David said that you lose two per cent of your muscles for every day on a life support machine and that Emilie had been on one for 43 days.
Over £1,000 had already been donated to the page set up by friend of 20 years, Emma Message as The Voice went to press.
Emma said: “Emilie is always there for everyone else, no matter how big or small the problem.
“I can only speak from experience when I say she’s been a pair of ears to rant to, has been the voice of reason and has held my hand through my toughest and darkest moments as she would for any of her friends (along with the sarcastic comments and telling off when needed!)
“I think she’ll be totally overwhelmed with the amount of messages, love and support everyone has sent and I speak on behalf of her family and close friends when I say thank you.
“Whether Emilie chooses to use the funds raised for private physio, speech therapy, a little break away for when she’s recovered or even donating the money to the amazing ICU team that saved her life.
“Anything would help for us to show her just how much she means to us all.”
The fundraising page for Emilie can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/emilies-recovery-from-coronavirus