Scots coronavirus patient survives UK record of 172 days in ICU

A SCOTS coronavirus patient has survived a UK record 172 days in intensive care.

Brian Mearns, 63, got a standing ovation from medics as he left the unit.

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The Edinburgh dad said: “It’s thanks to the wonderful staff I’m still alive.”

His miracle survival comes after his family were called into hospital four times to say their final goodbyes.

The dad of two was left on the brink as the virus ravaged his body and he was twice struck down with pneumonia.

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Wife Gillian, 63, and daughters Leah, 37, and Nicola, 33, were allowed to break visiting curbs after docs feared he’d lost his brave fight.

But Brian, who had been hooked up to a ventilator, repeatedly defied the odds and was wheeled out of intensive care after a staggering 172 days at the Western General, Edinburgh.

Recalling the family’s six-month ordeal, Leah said: “It has been total hell. We’ve been called to say goodbye to him four times.

“He’s been on a real rollercoaster and there have been some massive ups and downs.

“The virus attacked everything from his lungs to his kidneys and he still has a long road to recovery. He’s not out of the woods yet.

“But we’re all just so relieved that he’s still here, especially after almost losing him so many times.

“It’s something I never want to experience again.”

Brian, of the capital, fell ill days before his birthday on March 25.

He was tired, delirious and suffering from back pain but never had an excessively high temperature.

Medics told him he had a kidney infection and prescribed antibiotics.

He was ordered to go to the Western General, where he drove himself on March 28. The next day he was admitted to the ICU.


Leah told how the family were first alerted on May 7 to say that Brian might not pull through.

She said her previously fit and strong dad was unconscious when they arrived but seemed to realise his loved ones were there.

Leah added: “It was just a case of sitting with him and spending a bit of time with him.

“He did open his eyes and looked directly at my mum and squeezed my hand and my sister’s. But he was completely out of it.


“I’m very much a daddy’s girl so having to face the reality of him not being around was horrendous.”

Brian fought back from further scares in July and August.

But doctors refused to talk about the dire situation in front of the dog lover, who previously spent hours walking his beloved Border terriers Woody and Jura.

Staff always took his relatives out of the room to tell them how grim his life battle appeared.

The ICU team also kept Brian going by playing cards with him when visitors were banned.

Hailing the hospital workers, Leah said: “How we got through it, I don’t know, but the staff in the ICU were a great support. They were brilliant with us. They have really kept his spirits up and never allowed him to give up at any point.

“They played games with him most nights when he was able.

“Just giving him something to keep him occupied was so important.

“Without them there’s no way dad would still be here with us today.”

Hospital staff lined the corridor and gave Brian a round of applause as he was transferred to another ward on Wednesday.

Sharing the news on Twitter, they wrote: “After 172 days we said farewell to a very special patient. We wish you and your family well. You will be home with your dogs soon.”

Brian said: “I would like to thank the wonderful staff on Ward 20 for all the care and compassion I’ve received during my illness.”

He added: “It’s thanks to them that I’m still alive today.”

Brian and childhood sweetheart Gillian, who it’s thought contracted a mild form of coronavirus when her hubby was first admitted, have rarely spent time apart since they were 14.

They have managed to stay in touch through video calls but Leah revealed her dad has not wanted to talk about his brush with death.

She said: “He’s not said an awful lot. He doesn’t want to think about what he’s been through.

“It’s too upsetting for him to think that he’s nearly not been here on several occasions.

“He gets quite emotional. I asked him what he remembered and he welled up and changed the subject.”

Brian’s mental capacity has not been affected at all by his lengthy stint on a ventilator.

But his six-month stay in hospital has left him a shadow of his former self and he struggles to even move in bed on his own.

Nurses are needed to hoist him into a wheelchair.

And medics have warned that if he falls seriously ill again he will not be hooked up to a ventilator.

But Brian’s loved ones are now able to visit him for an hour every day and remain hopeful that he will make it home.

Leah added tonight: “It has taken a lot of out of him. We’re still a bit anxious.

“But he’s quite positive and getting out of intensive care is a massive step. All I want now is to get him home. That’s what we’re all aiming for. I just want to wrap him in cotton wool to keep him safe.”

Dr Rosaleen Baruah, critical care consultant at the Western General, paid tribute to the brave patient.

The medic said: “Brian is such a character and the whole team will really miss him.

“But we are delighted to see him being discharged from ICU after such a long stay. We wish him all the very best in his continued recovery.”

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