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'Proning' technique saved my wife from dying of coronavirus

Adam Fresco was told his wife may only have hours to live when she was in intensive care after contracting coronavirus.

Days later Stacey Fresco had made a miraculous recovery to return to the family home and begin the journey back to full health.

The doctors used a technique called 'proning' which saw Stacey go from life support machines in ICU to the long road to recovery at home.

What is proning and what are the risks for coronavirus patients?

  • Proning is a technique where patients who are struggling to get oxygen are turned onto their fronts, which helps the lungs to transfer oxygen to the bloodstream more efficiently.

  • It has been used for unconscious patients for years in intensive care units but normally much less frequently than possibly required during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Now the Intensive Care Society says the technique should be used for conscious coronavirus patients to avoid the need for a ventilator.

  • The ICS said: “We advocate that a trial of conscious prone positioning be performed on all suitable patients on the ward.” It added that it would not be suitable for everyone, including obese patients or pregnant women."

  • It has associated risks and can lead to fatal heart attacks.

For Adam , the use of this technique was the difference between losing his wife and the mother of his children and seeing her recover.

After being admitted to hospital and her situation worsening, Stacey was transferred to the ICU with little to no chance of surviving.

Adam was told by the doctors there was nothing more they could do and that it was 'time to say goodbye'.

He went in with his children in full protective gear to say goodbye to Stacey on Mother's Day as the children read out their cards to their mum.

After an emotional goodbye Adam asked the staff if there was anything else they could do to save his wife.

Adam and Stacey Fresco

Proning was the last available option but Adam was warned that Stacey's condition was so serious that using this technique could lead to a fatal heart attack.

"It was clear that she was going to die anyway so we had nothing to lose," Adam said. "The doctor told us to hang around for an hour because if ti does go wrong it will happen very quickly.

"After an hour he came back and said she's still fighting, she's alive, go home and we will ring you if something happens.

"On Tuesday evening the house phone rang and I ran to the phone and a lovely doctor I think called Abbie said 'is that Stacey's husband?' and I was dreading the next sentence starting with 'I'm sorry but' instead she said 'can I just say what a remarkable woman your wife is'."

At that stage the chances of recovery remained slim, but Stacey continued to fight and made small improvements each day.

Adam commended the 'incredible' staff at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Essex but quipped that he should never underestimate his wife again.

"I must learn never to underestimate my wife's fight."

Stacey is still recovering to full health at home.

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