Warning after 'super fit' Anglesey teenager nearly dies from flu

Jack Hollingsworth, 19, was rushed to hospital severely unwell with flu. Credit: BCUHB

A "super fit" teenage boy who needed intensive care treatment after catching flu has thanked the hospital staff who saved his life.

Jack Hollingsworth, 19, was rushed into Ysbyty Gwynedd’s Emergency Department on the 15 December after becoming severely unwell at his home in Llangristiolus, Anglesey.

He was assessed by medics there who recommended he was placed into a coma and cared for in the Intensive Care Unit as a matter of urgency.

Jack's mother, Claire Hollingsworth, said: “Jack had been unwell for a few days, we all thought it was a bad cold or even COVID.

“The COVID test came back negative and towards the end of the week he became more unwell, he had a very high temperature and a very fast heart rate.

“I couldn’t wait any longer, I’m an ex nurse so I knew my son wasn’t very well and I felt there was a risk that we could lose him."

'The worst moment of my life'

Jack's mum drove him to A&E and ran inside to get help.

"The receptionist could see how frantic I was and immediately alerted the clinical staff who rushed him straight into resus", she said.

“It was apparent that Jack was extremely sick as the team decided he needed ventilating straight away. It was the worst moment of my life seeing my son like that.”

Tests revealed Jack had contracted flu, which had developed into pneumonia.

For the next 10 days he remained in a coma with his mum and dad, John, and girlfriend, Erin, by his side.

Jack was rushed to the emergency department at Ysbyty Gwynedd, where medics decided he needed to be admitted to ICU. Credit: Media Wales

Consultant Dr Terry Collingwood, who admitted Jack to the Intensive Care Unit, said: “When Jack arrived with us in the Intensive Care Unit his condition was life-threatening.

“He needed complex medical support to survive the initial 48 hours. During that time we received advice and guidance from the Specialist Respiratory Failure service at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on how best to manage Jack’s condition, for which we were extremely grateful.”

On Christmas Eve, Jack began to show signs of improvement and doctors made the decision to bring him out of the coma.

'A reminder of how dangerous flu can be'

“During the 10 days Jack was in a coma there were times we thought we were going to lose him," said Jack's mum.

“A parent should never have to see their child so ill and it was just heartbreaking for us as parents to see our baby ventilated.

“Jack is super fit, having just completed an advanced diploma in outdoor activities but he demonstrated how a young person can become suddenly overwhelmed by influenza once they reach a point that their immune system burns out. At this point, he deteriorated from a boy with a flu like illness to severely unwell in the space of a couple of hours.

“It was a reminder of how dangerous flu can be, even for those who are young and fit and we would continue to encourage anyone who is eligible to get their flu jab after seeing what it nearly did to our son,” added Claire.

Thankfully, Jack made a quick recovery and was able to leave hospital on Boxing Day, just in time for his 19th birthday on 27 December.

Both Jack and his parents recently visited the ICU to thank the staff who cared for him during the darkest days of their lives.

Jack recently returned to thank the ICU staff who saved his life. Credit: BCUHB

Jack, who is now looking forward to returning to the Snowdonia mountains, said: “It was great to come back and see the staff who cared for me, as I was in a coma I don’t remember what any of them looked like so it was lovely to meet them and thank them personally.

“I will be forever grateful to them for saving my life.”

Claire added: “We just want to thank the hospital, especially the Critical Care team and the Emergency Department staff for all the care and support they have given us.

“We felt so looked after during that time and the care they provided Jack was incredible.

“We are extremely grateful to them and everything they did.” 

Dr Collingwood and the ICU team were delighted to see how well Jack has recovered.

The doctor said: “Helping a patient like Jack can be very challenging and requires input from many people working in multiple different specialities, including nursing, physiotherapy, radiology and laboratory services as well as the various support services such as housekeeping, administration and portering staff.

“It is a huge testament to the entire team here at Ysbyty Gwynedd that someone as sick as Jack was when he arrived has been able to make such a remarkable recovery.

“We were all delighted to see Jack again and we are so pleased to see him doing so well.”