A father of four has told how he was so sure he was about to die of Covid, he texted his family and friends to say "look after my kids".
Less than an hour later, in the ICU at Wigan hospital, Andrew Mikhail's heart stopped.Andrew, a businessman from St Helens, was in cardiac arrest for 17 minutes while doctors and nurses battled to save his life.
Andrew, chairman of Mikhail Hotel & Leisure Group which owns the Lord Street and Bold hotels in Southport, the Punch Tarmey's and Doctor Duncan's bars and other venues, was so close to death his wife was told he had "no chance" of recovery.He survived but spent six weeks on a ventilator during which he developed sepsis, holes in his lungs and a chest infection before being brought back to full consciousness slowly over the course of a month.Against all odds, the dad-of-four battled back from those desperate days and is now "75%" back to his normal self.
What Andrew describes as his "nightmare" began after he and wife, Vicky tested positive for Covid-19 on Boxing Day last year.By December 29, Andrew was struggling to breathe and when he began to turn blue Vicky called for help. He was taken to Wigan Hospital where he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).Andrew said: "Within a couple of days a consultant came over to me and said 'look your lungs are deteriorating, we need to put you on a ventilator' ."I remember saying 'no way'. I had just so happened to be watching something that said only one in 10 people who go onto a ventilator come off it, so I was basically saying I am not going on.
"They could see I was getting stressed so they left me, but it was getting harder and harder to breathe."I was still refusing to go on it, but all the time I am seeing sights that are not nice sights. People around me are dying, I am watching people getting shocked [with a defibrillator].''After 16 days in hospital it became clear it was critical for Andrew to be placed on a ventilator.
"At this point a consultant came over to me and said 'listen, you are not going to last much longer, the only slim chance of survival is if you go on a ventilator'."I thought my lungs are shot, just do it, so I said OK."Andrew said at that stage he fully believed he would die, and sent text messages to his wife Vicky and business partner Rob Ashcroft saying "look after my kids".He said: "They asked if I wanted to call my wife and kids, but I was gasping for breath and I just said no. I didn't want the last time they saw me to be like that, I didn't want them to remember me like that."They did it straight away, and that's the last thing I remember."As Andrew was sedated staff at the hospital called Vicky and advised her to come in.But by the time Vicky arrived at hospital, Andrew had gone into cardiac arrest and was on the verge of death.He said: "The unbelievable doctors and nurses heart massaged me, shocked me, did it for 17 minutes, then I started to come back. I would come back then go again, come back then go again.
"When my wife got there they told her 'he is not going to make it, I am sorry to tell you he's going to die'."She said, because everyone feels like this about their loved ones, 'you don't know him, he's a fighter'."Despite the bleak outlook, Andrew's body clung to life despite multiple setbacks, and in late February this year the process of easing him off the ventilator began.Eventually Andrew began to recover, and managed to go home in April this year.Andrew said: "Before I got covid me and Vicky would walk for miles, we would go up Parbold Hill two or three times a week."I said to her 'I am going to climb that before Christmas'. She said don't be stupid, just take it slowly but I was like 'no I can do this'."Despite his lungs still not being fully recovered, Andrew completed his goal with months to spare and shared the news on Twitter alongside a selfie with Vicky.
His tweet attracted support from sporting legends including former World Champion boxer Tony Bellew and rugby league legends Paul Sculthorpe, Lee Briers and Leon Pryce.Andrew said he has plans to raise money for a recovery unit to help patients who have been in long term intensive care and to support their families, and will announce plans in the near future.