Four weeks in coma: incredible Aussie virus survivor

 

A father of two who was the first COVID-19 patient to be admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital intensive care unit became the last to walk out after being put into an induced coma and spending four weeks on a ventilator.

Paul Faraguna, 68, travelled on the Ruby Princess cruise ship with his wife, Robyn, and two friends in March.

At least 22 coronavirus deaths have since been linked to the vessel after passengers disembarked in Sydney.

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Paul and Robyn Faraguna both fell ill due to their cruise on the Ruby Princess. Picture: Supplied
Paul and Robyn Faraguna both fell ill due to their cruise on the Ruby Princess. Picture: Supplied

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Ms Faraguna, 64, was also diagnosed with the coronavirus however she has made a full recovery.

The infection left her husband in the fight of his life.

"He was so ill he was in the ICU in an induced coma and on a ventilator for four weeks," SA Health said on Thursday.

"He's still recovering and now receiving care closer to home at Modbury Hospital."

Ms Faraguna told The Advertiser: "He has been through hell for a long time."

She said her husband, a retired engineer, had been strong, fit and healthy.

The Faragunas. Picture: Supplied
The Faragunas. Picture: Supplied

RAH staff lined the corridors to farewell Mr Faraguna, beaming and clapping as the man they consider to be a "miracle survivor" left the ward.

He clutched the hands of two young women before being taken away in a wheelchair by his family.

"Thank you everybody," Mr Faraguna said.

Staff applauded to mark the remarkable moment. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Staff applauded to mark the remarkable moment. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

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He also released a 655-word statement through the state's health department.

"I remember that, after awakening from my coma, virtually every doctor and nurse consistently telling me that my recovery was a miracle," he said.

"I thought they were saying it just to give me encouragement. Since I came out of the coma I have a more complete understanding of my miraculous journey."

Thursday marked the 14th day since an active case of COVID-19 was recorded in South Australia.

Four people have died since the pandemic reached the state however all 435 other patients have recovered.

According to the federal health department, 41 people with COVID-19 remain in hospital across the country including nine people in ICU. Five of those are in Victoria, three in New South Wales and one in Queensland.

 

READ PAUL FARAGUNA'S FULL STATEMENT BELOW

"About two days after disembarking from the cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, on March 19 and flying back to Adelaide, I became ill and apparently the doctors didn't know whether I would survive. I was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital by my wife Robyn and tests were made to confirm I had COVID-19. I became so ill that after a few days I was transferred to the ICU and put into an induced coma and on a ventilator for about four weeks.

"For much of the time Robyn and my two adult children, Adam and Stacey, were not permitted to visit me because of the severity of my condition. Eventually they were able to see me, but I was not responsive to them. Robyn was kept informed daily about my state, but it seemed very grim as I started to suffer multiple organ failure. The doctors were unable to say what my future would be if I survived, even suggesting that I may have brain damage and be permanently disabled.

"When it was decided to take me out of the coma, I was transferred to the general ward where I currently am. I have no memory of it all, leading up to my awakening. I just assumed that I had only just been admitted and I felt reasonably normal, except that I was hooked up to various life support equipment.

Robyn Faraguna holding her husband’s hand. Picture: Supplied
Robyn Faraguna holding her husband’s hand. Picture: Supplied

"I have been out of a coma for approximately two weeks and I don't have any permanent damage or side-effects. My memory is as good as before I got sick and I remember everything from before and after my coma. The only challenge left is to walk normally again which should, I feel, happen in the near future due to my physiotherapy program.

"I remember that, after awakening from my coma, virtually every doctor and nurse consistently telling me that my recovery was a miracle. I thought they were saying it just to give me encouragement. Since I came out of the coma I have a more complete understanding of my miraculous journey and realise the medical staff literally consider me to be a miracle survivor.

"Whilst I was in the ICU, my wife Robyn got to know the nurses and doctors very well and she cannot praise them highly enough. She has told me they are very caring and dedicated professionals. She was particularly grateful for the help and understanding received from Dr Abbie. Even though I don't remember any of the time that I spent in the ICU, I very much appreciate the caring treatment I received and would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Paul has a wife and two adult children. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Paul has a wife and two adult children. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

"In the 6G ward in which I have been since I left the ICU, I have got to know the nursing staff and doctors very well and they are all caring and dedicated in their jobs, and I believe that they are a major factor in my rapid recovery.

"Another group I would like to that very much is the physiotherapy and occupational professionals. There are too many staff to name individually, but I would like them to know how much I appreciate them. One individual that I will name is Karen, the nursing manager. She has been very personable and friendly to myself and my family, and we appreciate all the courtesy and help she has given us.

"I don't particularly enjoy being in hospital for such a long time, but the experience of being looked after by the wonderful staff has made it far better. Finally I would like to say how fortunate I feel to live in Adelaide and to be cared for at the RAH. The staff and facilities are excellent and I can't imagine that there are many places in the world that could match this standard. I will never be able to repay all of the dedicated medical staff, but I give you my heartfelt thank you."

Originally published as Incredible tribute to 'miracle' survivor