The Scottish pilot who spent 10 weeks on life support in a Vietnam hospital has urged people not to be blase about the threat posed by Covid-19.
Stephen Cameron, 42, from Motherwell, said he was a “living example of what this virus can do” after enduring multiple organ failure, numerous blood clots and 68 days on an intensive care ventilator.
Speaking from University Hospital Wishaw in Lanarkshire, where he is completing his recovery, Cameron said it was essential people followed all the physical distancing and hygiene advice from the government.
“People might grumble about having to put on gloves or social distancing, two metres apart, and all this sort of stuff but, you know, I contracted it and I was under for 10 weeks on life support,” Cameron told the BBC.
“It’s no laughing matter. It’s a very serious thing. And I think people can’t be blase about this until we have eradicated it.”
Cameron fell sick with Covid-19 in a bar for foreign visitors and residents in southern Vietnam. He was of 20 Britons who were hospitalised with the virus there. Known as Patient 91, he became famous after surviving against the odds, with reports on his condition and treatment national news.
Only 10 people were put into intensive care in Vietnam, which had only 420 confirmed cases and no deaths. The country’s health service drew on its best intensive care and respiratory experts during his treatment; Cameron said their experience treating him helped with other cases.
When his lung capacity fell to 10%, he narrowly avoided a double lung transplant and lost 30kg in weight while in an induced coma. He still struggles to walk.
“I had multiple blood clots; I had renal failure; I had another couple of organs fail on me. My lungs were down to 10% capacity at one stage. I’ve been told I was Asia’s sickest patient,” he said. “The vast majority of the country knew about Patient 91, which was my moniker.”
When Cameron was discharged from hospital in Ho Chi Minh City earlier in July, he recalled seeing hospital staff, doctors and other patients standing 10-deep in the hospital lobby. “When I got into the back of the ambulance, when we were getting driven away, there was traffic cops out on the roads holding people back. Again – maybe 15, 20 deep – people out on the street, on the road. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Dr Manish Patel, the respiratory consultant managing Cameron’s case in Wishaw, said Cameron’s experience was exceptional, and likened it to running multiple marathons. “We don’t have much experience of people being on a ventilator for more than a month and a half,” he said.