"I had to get better for my family"

Jose-Luis Fernandez tells us about being one of the first King's patients treated for COVID-19

Natasha and Jose

It’s been a year since King’s admitted its first COVID-19 patients in February 2020. As we look back at an extraordinary 12 months for our Trust, we spoke to Jose-Luis Fernandez, 81, who was one of the first people treated with the virus. Jose spent 28 days in intensive care, initially at the PRUH, and then at King’s, and despite all the odds, returned home to his family in April 2020.

Jose said: “When I was in hospital, I kept telling myself there was no way this virus would beat me. I had to get better for my family and beautiful grandchildren. My gratitude for the staff who looked after me will last forever.

“My recovery has been slow, and I felt very weak for a long time. Anyone who has been in intensive care will tell you that it takes its toll. But now I am nearly fully recovered, I run around with my grandchildren, and although I’m 81 I feel more like 40!”

Natasha Raphoz, Jose’s daughter, added: “The first days of Dad’s recovery back at home were so hard. We didn’t know if he’d be able to make a full recovery, or how independent he’d be. But he slowly started getting better, and it felt like we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s about a year to the day he started having COVID-19 symptoms, and he’s just getting back to looking like his old self again. I never knew if he’d be able to play with my children again, but he’s proved everyone wrong. We feel so lucky.”

Sarah Dheansa, head of nursing for neurosciences at King’s, was part of the team who cared for Jose. She said: “We’ve stayed in touch with Jose, and it’s lifted the team’s hearts to hear how he’s recovering. Watching him with his family and grandchildren reminds us all that there is always hope, despite how sick you become, and that all of our patients are part of something much bigger than we can help restore. He is an inspirational figure for the families who still have a loved one unwell, and reminds us of how despite the odds, so many patients have the ability to pull through.”