A former nurse has released shocking images of her “super fit” teenage son in a 10-day coma, when he almost died after catching flu.
Jack Hollingsworth, 19, was rushed to hospital after becoming severely unwell with flu, which later developed into pneumonia. His mum Claire, from Llangristiolus in Anglesey, Wales, said the family initially thought he was suffering from a bad cold or Covid, but the test came back negative.
Fearing she could lose her son, Claire rushed Jack to Ysbyty Gwynedd’s Emergency Department on 15 December when his temperature spiked and his heart rate suddenly became very fast. He was then taken to intensive care and put into a coma.
Claire said: “The Covid test came back negative and towards the end of the week he became more unwell, he had a very high temperature and a very fast heart rate. I couldn’t wait any longer, I’m an ex nurse so I knew my son wasn’t very well and I felt there was a risk that we could lose him.
“I drove Jack in my car to the department and ran inside to get some help. The receptionist could see how frantic I was and immediately alerted the clinical staff who rushed him straight into Resus.
“It was apparent that Jack was extremely sick as the team decided he needed ventilating straight away. It was the worst moment of my life seeing my son like that.”
‘His condition was life-threatening’
Test results showed that Jack had contracted flu, which then developed into pneumonia. The 19-year-old spent ten days in a coma with his mum, dad John, and girlfriend Erin by his side, but medics said there were times they feared he would die.
Dr Terry Collingwood, critical care consultant, said: “When Jack arrived with us in the Intensive Care Unit his condition was life-threatening.
“He needed complex medical support to survive the initial 48 hours.During that time we received advice and guidance from the Specialist Respiratory Failure service at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on how best to manage Jack’s condition, for which we were extremely grateful.”
Jack began to show signs of improvement on Christmas Eve and he was brought out of the coma. Claire said: “There were times we thought we were going to lose him. A parent should never have to see their child so ill and it was just heartbreaking for us as parents to see our baby ventilated.
“Jack is super fit, having just completed an advanced diploma in outdoor activities but he demonstrated how a young person can become suddenly overwhelmed by influenza once they reach a point that their immune system burns out. At this point, he deteriorated from a boy with a flu-like illness to severely unwell in the space of a couple of hours.
“It was a reminder of how dangerous flu can be, even for those who are young and fit and we would continue to encourage anyone who is eligible to get their flu jab after seeing what it nearly did to our son.”
Jack returned home on Boxing Day but recently returned to the hospital to thank staff who saved his life. He said he is now looking forward to returning to the Snowdonia mountains.
Jack said: “It was great to come back and see the staff who cared for me, as I was in a coma I don’t remember what any of them looked like so it was lovely to meet them and thank them personally. I will be forever grateful to them for saving my life.”
Claire added: “We just want to thank the hospital, especially the Critical Care team and the Emergency Department staff for all the care and support they have given us. We felt so looked after during that time and the care they provided Jack was incredible. We are extremely grateful to them and everything they did.”