'It's a miracle I am alive': Wolverhampton councillor on road to Covid recovery after being told he would die

A city councillor has revealed that doctors told him he had little chance of survival when he fell into a coma after contracting Covid.

Milkinder Jaspal back home with three-year-old granddaughter Basant after battling Covid
Milkinder Jaspal back home with three-year-old granddaughter Basant after battling Covid

Milkinder Jaspal was left fighting for his life on a ventilator for six weeks having tested positive for coronavirus in January.

After an X-ray revealed his lungs were 95 per cent infected medics gave him the prognosis that he was likely to die.

As the 61-year-old's condition deteriorated his family was told to prepare to come to New Cross Hospital to say their last goodbyes.

But in the days that followed his lungs began to clear and after nearly two months in hospital he was sent home to begin what is expected to be a long and difficult road to recovery.

The Wolverhampton councillor said: "I was living on the oxygen machine and it got to the point where my family were told to expect the worst.

"The doctors thought I would not survive. They said the X-ray was the worst they had seen and that no one could possibly survive or recover from so much infection.

"Somehow I pulled through and have lived to fight another day."

Councillor Jaspal's family were told to say their goodbyes

Councillor Jaspal, a former city mayor who represents Heath Town, came out of hospital on March 17 and is now at home, embarking on what doctors have told him is likely to be a long road to recovery.

"My body is very weak, and it is a real struggle to walk," he said. "My hands are shaking and I have been left black and blue after all the drugs I was put on.

"It is going to be a long road back, but really it is a miracle that I am alive at all."

Councillor Jaspal says he contracted Covid through family members, all of whom recovered without any complications.

The Labour councillor said he is "eternally grateful" to staff at New Cross who did everything they could to help him pull through.

'It feels so good to see the sky'

Milkinder Jaspal talks about his fight for life in his own words.

As someone who had never been ill with anything more serious than a cold, I had no reason to panic when I started to feel unwell on the evening of January 20.

I was tired and had a fever, but put it down to the long hours I'd been working. I can't remember much of what happened on that night, but my family say I was talking incoherently, not walking properly and bumping into furniture.

My daughter-in-law Jaspreet realised something was wrong and told my son Sivy, who is a GP. He checked and said my oxygen level was low, and against my wishes at the time called an ambulance.

I was put on oxygen and rushed to New Cross A&E, where we had to wait for three hours in the ambulance due to the high number of patients.

When I got inside A&E at 11pm I was tested for Covid, given several blood tests and a chest x-ray.

I thought I'd be in hospital for a couple of days at the most, but the consultant confirmed that I had low oxygen due to Covid. I was told that if I had waited until the morning to go to hospital, I would have died through lack of oxygen.

They said I had Covid pneumonia, type one respiratory failure and acute kidney injury, and the following morning I was moved to a bed on the elderly care ward.

By evening on January 22 I was receiving 100 per cent oxygen, and later that night I was moved to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) for Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) - a plastic mask which is put around your face.

By Sunday my oxygen level had deteriorated further and I was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

I was on various different drugs, including an experimental drug called Tocilizumab, an intravenous drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis that had been trialled for Covid patients.

As the week progressed I was put on 100 per cent oxygen and the doctors told me my chances of survival were 50-50 if went on a ventilator. If I didn't, I would probably die, they said.

I told them I would do anything to stay alive and would go on the ventilator, but instructed them not to ever put me on a life support machine.

I was put to sleep with some difficulty as my body would not shut down, and the plan was to start feeding me in the morning through a tube and then slowly wean me off the ventilator.

For the next six weeks I would be in a coma, during which time I had many dark dreams. I was being chased by people who wanted to kill me and was running from one place to another to try and escape them.

I met my parents and attended my own funeral. In my mind, I can remember thinking that I was already dead.

At this stage I was already on drugs including morphine and midazolam, but on February 1 a CT scan showed multiple blood clots all over my lungs. The prognosis was very poor.

My lungs started to deteriorate and an X-ray showed they were 95 per cent contaminated. The hospital phoned home and told my family to be prepared to come to the hospital for end of life.

Basically, the doctors thought I would not survive. They said the X-ray was the worst they had seen and that no one could possibly survive or recover from this amount of lung being affecting by infected.

But on February 15 an X-ray showed a small speck of white light on the lungs. The doctors said there was hope after all.

The days that followed were a real battle. My temperature was high and I was put on new medication. I had a tracheostomy to help me breathe as my oxygen levels remained low.

However, my body just kept on fighting. It was like I wasn't ready to die and I know there were a lot of people out there praying for me.

Gradually, my lungs started to clear and I managed to pull through. I have been recovering at home since March 17, but it is going to be a long road back, maybe a year or more the doctors say.

In some respects I feel like I have been born again. My body lost all its strength and power and I am having to learn to do basic things all over again like walk, eat and drink.

My whole body, especially my hands, hands keep shaking, but the good news is that I'm on the way back.

After what I have been through, it feels so good to breathe fresh air and see the clouds and the sky.

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