Wednesday 13 November 2019

'I thought I had flu' - man spent 250 days in hospital fighting sepsis

Meath man Philip Heary almost died and battled sepsis for eight months. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Meath man Philip Heary almost died and battled sepsis for eight months. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

A determined Meath man who is lucky to be alive after battling sepsis for 250 days in hospital, thought initially he was suffering from flu.

Philip Heary (53) from Kells now wants to raise awareness of the deadly blood disease which left him at death's door three times after his organs failed.

The agricultural contractor developed sepsis from a chest infection and pneumonia, which he thought was the flu and so avoided seeking medical help.


"Last November, I had the classic signs of sepsis but like an Irish Paddy, I just kept going. I wasn't going to the toilet and I fell asleep behind the wheel of the car, waking up on the opposite side of the road.

"I went to bed and woke up in buckets of sweat. My partner Elizabeth eventually rang for the doctor - who saved my life.

"I was 36 stone with fluid retention and the doctor took one look at me and put me on oxygen straight away because I could hardly breathe."

Philip was whisked to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan before being transferred to the Mater Hospital in Dublin where a tracheostomy was performed.

He was then placed in an induced coma.

He spent six weeks in intensive care before being transferred to the high-dependency unit.

"I had multi-organ failure. My kidneys and lungs were gone. The doctors told my family to get my affairs in order three times, as they didn't think I'd pull through. I also developed a urinary tract infection which nearly finished me."

While in hospital, Philip's beloved dad passed away but he was too sick to go to the funeral.

"He died on June 22 last. It was as if he died to give me life because on that day, they took the breathing tube from my neck and I started to breathe on my own again."

Philip is home five weeks now and is slowly regaining his strength after his sickness also led to him shedding 12 stone.

"I know I'm lucky. While I was in hospital, three others came in after me with sepsis and none of them made it. I'm here by a hair's breadth and it's mostly down to the care and attention I received from the amazing staff in the hospital.

"I'll have a fundraiser for the Mater Hospital when I'm well enough, but I want to tell my story now because I had never heard of sepsis before this.

"If you told me about this 12 months ago, I'd have laughed. I was the type of fella to go out in the snow without a coat.

"Everyone has heard of cancer, but very few people know about sepsis. It is a killer and I'd urge everyone to learn about it and seek medical help if you think you have the symptoms."

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