Family of woman brought back from brink after being given hours to live hail NHS

Stacey Fresco was given hours to live but made a miraculous recovery after hospital decide to try 'proning'


A Jewish father has thanked the “incredible” NHS workers who brought his wife, who was critically ill with coronavirus, back from the brink of death.

Stacey Fresco, 50, had been rushed to Whipps Cross Hospital in east London on March 18, after having difficulty breathing and was admitted as a suspected coronavirus patient. 

The mother-of-two's condition began to deteriorate as the week progressed. 

In the early hours of March 22, Stacey’s husband Adam Fresco, 52, received a call from the hospital to say that his wife had been transferred to the intensive care unit and that her blood was filling with acid. 

The following morning, he was called to the hospital and told to prepare for the worst. 

“I rang my kinds and said that we had a chance to visit mum,” he recalls. “They got to the hospital and I told them the truth, that this was goodbye and that they should think of everything that they wanted to say because it was unlikely that we would see mum again.” 

As Mr Fresco and his 21- and 23-year-old daughters, holding Mother’s Day cards, donned protective equipment and went into the ward to bid farewell, Mr Fresco asked the doctors a final question. 

“Is there anything weird, whacky, or left-field that you can try?” he asked. 

Back in the waiting room the family were told that proning, where patients are turned over for twelve-hour stints, in a bid to promote oxygen flow and relieve pressure on the lungs, might be possible. 

“It is really risky,” Mr Fresco remembers being told. He was warned that “Stacey’s heart was not working properly alone – she had bacterial pneumonia and her kidneys were not working – turning her would put so much pressure on her heart that she would probably have a fatal heart attack.” 

A brief family conference concluded that: “mum’s going to die anyway, we’ve got a small chance to save her.” 

Warned that if the proning fails, things would go awry quickly, the doctors advised the Frescos to stick around. After an hour, with Stacey “still fighting”, they were told that they could go home. 

Two nights later, Mr Fresco was told that the tide was beginning the turn: “for the first time, we are optimistic,” he was told.

By Thursday, Stacey had been moved out of the ICU, and by April 9th- “five days earlier than one consultant thought she would be leaving”, Mr Fresco heard his wife down the phone asking to be picked up. 

Mr Fresco puts Stacey’s miraculous recovery down to “sheer strength to survive” and the “brilliant staff at Whipps Cross.” 

“One nurse gave me her private mobile number, so I could send her a photo of the family and me and the kids, which she then printed off and stuck to some of the equipment around Stacey’s bed,” he recalls. 

Others, while nursing Stacey back to health, would tell her that her husband and children loved her and were willing her back to health. 

“The doctors kept on saying to her when she was in the hospital: you are out success story, you haven’t just beaten the odds you have smashed them,” Mr Fresco said. 

He was told by one consultant that for a period wife had been the sickest patient at Whipps Cross Hospital. 

“For the doctors and the staff at Whipps Cross: thank you is inadequate. They are just superheroes. We are asking them to go to work each day, not just to risk their own lives, but when they go home, they risk infecting family, friends, and whoever they live with. That is incredible. You can’t get any more selfless than that.” 

Mr Fresco is asking that people donate to Barts Charity, which supports the hospitals of Barts Health NHS Trust, including Whipps Cross Hospital. 

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