Mum given hours to live after coronavirus infection survives after being turned onto her stomach in 'proning' technique

A MUM-OF-TWO was at death's door with coronavirus until a doctor suggested turning her on to her stomach for 12 hours in a technique known as "proning".

Stacey Fresco had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 on Friday March 20 and was transferred to the intensive care unit two days later as her condition rapidly deteriorated.

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Her husband, Adam, was told to prepare for the worst as his wife was hooked up to a life-support machine and unconscious in the ICU at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London.

Stacey, who had type 2 diabetes, had the deadly virus, bacterial pneumonia and her kidneys and heart were not working properly.

Writing in The Times, he said: "I told the kids, aged 21 and 23, we were going in to say goodbye and they should think about everything they wanted to say as it would probably be the last time they saw her alive.

"We put on full PPE — three pairs of gloves each, an apron with the sleeves tucked into the gloves, facemask, glasses and hair net — and walked into the intensive care unit.

"Having to tell your children that their mum is unlikely to survive the next couple of hours is horrific. To have to watch as they sob their goodbyes is worse."

At this horrendous moment, Adam asked the doctor if there was "anything weird of wacky" he had heard about.

"It was a desperate plea that I knew he couldn't answer", he said.


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In the waiting room, the doctor, Dave, suggested there was one last thing he could try – a technique called "proning", where the patient is placed on their stomach for 12 hours.

He said it might help Stacey's lungs transfer oxygen into the bloodstream more efficiently but warned it could lead to a fatal heart attack.

They agreed they had nothing to lose and took the decision to lie Stacey on her front.

Incredibly, Stacey made a miraculous recovery and the tubes were gradually removed from her body, followed by the oxygen.

Adam said: "One doctor told her she was the hospital's success story. Another said she hadn't just beaten the odds, but smashed them out of the park."

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Adam's account comes as experts said doctors should consider flipping all coronavirus patients who need oxygen onto their fronts.

The "proning" technique has been used for unconscious patients in intensive care units for years.

New guidance from the Intensive Care Society said the technique should now also be used for conscious patients who have the deadly virus to help them avoid the need for ventilation.

It added it would not be suitable for everyone, including obese patients or pregnant women.

Last week JK Rowling revealed she had suffered from suspected coronavirus before a YouTube video demonstrating breathing techniques helped her to recover.

In the video Sarfaraz Munshi, a doctor at Queen's Hospital, Essex, advised taking five deep breaths, holding each for five seconds. He then said to take a sixth breath, hold that for five seconds before doing a cough.

He said to do this twice and then flip on to the stomach for ten minutes while taking deeper breaths than normal.

To donate to Whipps Cross Hospital, please click here. 

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