'I was lucky to be alive' - Covid-19 patient looks to recovery after suffering stroke

A husband who fell ill with coronavirus while celebrating his ruby wedding anniversary abroad is continuing his recovery after suffering a stroke.
David Kirton and wife Catherine in hospital.David Kirton and wife Catherine in hospital.
David Kirton and wife Catherine in hospital.

David Kirton, 64, had a stroke after developing symptoms of the virus while celebrating his 40th anniversary in Santorini with wife Catherine.

He flew to Belgium in order to get home, but became increasingly unwell and was admitted to hospital there, spending two weeks on a ventilator.

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David, from South Shields, suffered a stroke shortly after coming out of intensive care and spent five more days in Belgium before flying back home to the North East with the support of the town’s MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

David Kirton and wife Catherine on their trip to Santorini.David Kirton and wife Catherine on their trip to Santorini.
David Kirton and wife Catherine on their trip to Santorini.

He said: "We won’t forget our 40th wedding anniversary in a hurry. I was starting to show symptoms of coronavirus and everything was shut down on the island including the hotel we were staying in.”

David was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital on his return to the UK, being placed on a temporary ward as the stroke ward was being used to treat coronavirus patients.

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He continued: “I was lucky to be alive. I remember being in the ambulance on the way home and getting to hospital but everything was a blur.

"I was awake but not aware, and I couldn’t move voluntarily at all.”

David Kirton before falling ill.David Kirton before falling ill.
David Kirton before falling ill.
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Catherine added: "If it hadn’t been for the internet I don’t know what I would have done. I was by myself in a hotel near the airport and the airport was closed.

"For the first few days I didn’t even know if David was alive. It was absolutely terrifying.”

By the time David left Sunderland Royal he was able to stand and had walked two or three steps. He now uses a wheelchair when he goes out.

The stroke has caused vision problems, weakness to his left side and reduced mobility.

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The Stroke Association is calling on authorities to provide more support for stroke survivors and carers during the pandemic.

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association added: “Strokes didn’t stop happening because of the pandemic, but some treatments became unavailable and most stroke aftercare ground to a halt.

"This means more stroke survivors are living with avoidable, unnecessary disability.

“We need a big push to get rehabilitation, mental health services and carer support back on their feet.”

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