Sheffield musician who almost died in Covid coma thanks nurses at comeback gig

  • Video courtesy of Joan Pons Laplana

A Sheffield musician who was hospitalised with Covid-19 and put in a coma has thanked his ICU nursing team by inviting them to his comeback gig.

Graham Rodgers nearly died three times while he was being looked after by nurses including Joan Pons Laplana, who he called his 'substitute brother' and who played his music to him while he was unconscious.

Mr Rodgers, 62, used his first performance back with band Calico Fever to thank the medical staff who had looked after him and said: "Thank you is not enough for these people who have saved my life."

The musician had a stroke after getting Covid in March 2020 and after eventually leaving hospital, had to re-learn guitar before his performance.

He said: "In my mind I could still play it, but when I tried to play the guitar again afterwards, it was like going back to when I was 14, learning again, and I wept."

  • Graham and Joe spoke to Ian White and Lara Rostron on ITV Calendar

Nurse Joan "Joe" Pons Laplana, 47, said looking after Mr Rodgers was "a big rollercoaster" but described "filling up with pride" the moment Graham opened his eyes on hearing his own music.

He said: "Graham spent quite a few weeks under sedation...we wanted to wake him up but Graham didn't want to wake up.

"We thought maybe he had brain damage but then I remembered Graham was a big musician so I thought 'let me see if he responds to that'.

"I put his music as loud as possible and started playing [it] and suddenly his heart rate started going faster... he started tapping his feet and then I realised there was something inside Graham."

Mr Rodgers said he could recall the moment himself, describing it as being in "a long dark corridor".

"I heard the music in the distance and it got a little louder and a little louder, and I heard comments about the songs. I thought that's my music and suddenly I opened my eyes."

Although he still has problems resulting from his illness, getting back into music has been his driving motivation.

"It was a goal that I'd been working towards for two years and everyone gave me such encouragement to get back on stage," he said.

"It meant everything to me just to return."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.