I was a patient in ICU, so I knew I had to help during COVID-19

Paediatric Nurse Victoria Whittley had been a patient in intensive care. When she was given the opportunity to be redeployed to ICU during the second wave of Covid, she knew she wanted to do it.

In 2015, she was 38 when a bad case of influenza turned to pneumonia and sepsis very quickly.

“I’d always been fit and healthy, so didn’t recognise how poorly I was”, she said. However, on Christmas day she was rushed into hospital with a temperature of 41.5 and deteriorated rapidly. She moved to the intensive care unit, and was paralysed, sedated and intubated.

Victoria was very sick with multiple organ failure. She was put on dialysis and her family were called in on Boxing Day to say their goodbyes.

“When Dad got home, he didn’t even take his shoes off. They’d been told to expect the phone call.

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“I was intubated for twelve days and was critical that whole time. I had bilateral blood clots in both jugulars, and when they tried to extubate me I had to have a tracheostomy. I was proned because my lungs were so bad and collapsed”, she said.

But, after recovering and learning to walk , talk and getting back to work again, Victoria joined the team of ten staff from Children’s theatres who went to help out in ICU. She felt like it would be part of her own healing process to care for patients who were in the same boat she’d once been in.

“ICU were absolutely brilliant, I owe them my life and I always wanted to give back to them. It felt like the ultimate full circle to go back to work there.

“I knew I was putting myself in an uncomfortable position but the one thing I wanted to do was make sure that the people I was looking after felt safe.”

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