One of Britain’s longest suffering Covid patients has called for people to take up their vaccine a year after she was struck down with the virus.
Fatima Bridle has warned of the “true horror” of Covid and revealed she had a vivid dream when she was in a two-month coma battling the virus that it wasn’t her time to die.
The 35-year-old contracted coronavirus when she flew back from a holiday in Morocco in early March last year – before the global pandemic had taken hold.
She spent 141 days in hospital, 105 of which were on the brink of death on a ventilator battling the virus, sepsis and pneumonia.
A year later she still suffers from the debilitating symptoms of “Long Covid”.
And today she gives her support to The Queen who last week urged the public “to think about other people” and get a Covid jab when they are offered one.
In an exclusive interview, Fatima said: “I know the true horror of Covid and long Covid as I’m still living it.
“If The Queen has had the vaccine it should reassure people who are worried as no-one would put her life at risk.
“She’s spoken out to encourage others to play their part.
“We all have a duty to protect other people, even if it’s not for ourselves.
“If it’s going to save people’s lives and also help the older generation when we go to see our parents or grandparents we need to get it.
“I’m speaking out to support her as we need to try and help stop more tragedies and prevent others lives being lost and devastated by this virus.”
The lab technician from Southampton also spoke of her strange experience while fighting for her life in an induced coma.
She added: “When I was in a coma I had a vivid dream that my mother was talking to my brother. I heard her tell him ‘God wants her to return back’.
“I remember dreaming I was meant to be going on something like an aeroplane – I took a ticket, as though I was going somewhere – but then the aeroplane was cancelled.
“I feel like I have been given a second chance, thanks to the amazing doctors and nurses.”
Fatima’s husband was the first to fall ill the day after they travelled home from visiting family in Morocco on March 6.
On the coach back to Southampton a group of tourists from another flight were coughing, but Fatima said she “didn’t realise it was cause for alarm”.
At the time they had heard of once case of Covid-19 in hospital, but life was still normal.
A week later she also came down with symptoms and on March 17 she was rushed to hospital and placed in a coma.
Recalling when she woke up two months later, she said: “When I finally opened my eyes and saw two nurses in front of me I had no idea of how much time had passed.
“They said ‘you are in Southampton General Hospital, you have Covid-19.’ I couldn’t move my legs or even my hand – it was like I was paralysed.
“I thought I would always be like that – I was so frightened at first. The nurses had to exercise my body, even my fingers.”
When she was finally discharged from hospital the staff applauded.
But a year after she was infected she still struggles with the devastating effects and has been unable to return to work.
“The doctors told me it’s going to take time, but eventually your taste and smell will return,” she said.
“I can’t walk properly, I have to use a stick and I cannot take the stairs.
“I feel breathless and if I just do just a little bit I feel tired.
“If I try to walk, I go a short way and I have to sit down.”
However despite the toughest year of her life, she is filled with hope that we can get through the pandemic.
And she hopes to one day work for the NHS that saved her life.
“I am only here because of the efforts of the doctors, nurses and consultants,” she said. “They have given me a new life, a second chance.
“I realise I am lucky. I am very, very grateful to have a life when millions of people around the world have died.
“I’m now focused on doing positive things, I am looking towards a happy future and I would like to help others.
“My dream is to one day work for the NHS.
“Your whole perspective and your priorities change when you go through something so profound – as I know I very nearly didn’t make it.”