Sunderland man who spent five weeks in Covid coma had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat again

Credit: NCJ Media

A Sunderland man who almost lost his life through coronavirus had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat after waking up from a five-week coma.

Andy Milley from Silksworth became seriously ill with Covid in March 2021 - forcing medics to put him into an induced coma at Sunderland Royal Hospital for roughly five weeks while his body battled the virus.

It was during this time that his lung collapsed and his oxygen levels became critically low, and Andy was dependent on a ventilator to breathe for him.

Credit: NCJ Media

The 28-year-old said: "I took quite a bad turn and ended up in hospital for a few hours with shortness of breath and stuff like that.

"They did release me initially because my oxygen levels did improve, but a few days later I took another downward spiral and my oxygen levels dropped to about 80%.

"I was taken back into hospital from there and placed onto a Covid ward.

"After that I was taken onto another ward where I had specific nurses looking after me, and I also had one of the consultants from the Intensive Care Unit come up and keep an eye on me as well.

"A day later, I believe, they told me that I was going into Intensive Care and I think within 12 hours of being in the ICU they told me that for me to have the best chance they were going to have to put me into a medically induced coma.

Once in a coma, he was under anaesthetic for five weeks.

He added: "the virus did collapse his lungs to a point where a machine was breathing for me."

After five weeks he spent around four weeks further in hospital - where he had to learn how to talk, walk and eat again. He was then released in May 2021 following weeks in rehabilitation.

Just a month later, Andy and his girlfriend Beth Christie welcomed their daughter Rey Louise Milley to the world. Credit: NCJ Media

The knock on effects of his battle with coronavirus have left him unable to work due to health problems.

Andy said: "Obviously when I came out of the coma I was still technically employed at the time - my workplace was really supportive of me and they were always messaging and sending my partner flowers and stuff, which was really nice.

"Eventually they did say 'look now you're out of hospital, it's going to have to be a case of dropping the sick pay or coming back'.

"Medically at that point I wasn't able to do so, so I had to leave and I've been out of work since September."

The Bearded Villains, which have groups in 35 countries. Credit: NCJ Media

A group who have helped out in Andy's time of need is a brotherhood he is part of known as the Bearded Villains.

Established in 2014 in California, the worldwide group aim to pass on loyalty, honour and respect towards all people - as well as dedicating themselves to the 'betterment of mankind through fraternity Charity and Kindness'.

During Andy's recovery period, the group, of which he is a long-standing member, put on a charity fundraiser to help support Andy and his family financially while he was out of work - in the form of an online Zoom quiz.

They also supported his partner with frequent well wishes, giving Beth a crutch to stand on while her boyfriend was struggling in hospital.

Andy added: "A lot of them were texting Beth asking how she was, a couple of them came up from Manchester and Leeds and places like that to visit my parents.

"They were offering support and seeing if they needed anything.

"They also did a charity event for me - obviously at the time Covid was rife so the only thing they could do was a big Zoom quiz.

"It was open for anybody to join, and loads of people jumped on. In the end they raised £610 for me and Beth once I got out of hospital, just to give us a hand with financial support and stuff for the bairn.

"We also had t-shirts and stuff made which was really nice."

Now, nearly a year on from his battles with Covid - Andy has set his sights on participating in a fundraiser with the Northern Monkeys chapter for their nominated charity Autism Together.

The challenge will see him walk, swim, bike and run 54 miles over the span of the next month.

Andy said: "The motivation side of it is a massive sort of thing, it's hard enough for me to go for a walk just normally.

"Obviously with everything that's happened with the coma, it's left me quite impaired physically."

Andy initially aimed to raise £54, but he has since more than doubled his target - raising £114 thus far.