Unvaccinated student, 22, 'had to learn to walk and talk again' after COVID coma

·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
Ffion Barnett was put in an induced coma for five days after testing positive for COVID. (Reach)
Ffion Barnett was put in an induced coma for five days after testing positive for COVID. (Reach)

A student in her 20s has urged more young people to get jabbed after she spent five days in a coma with COVID.

Ffion Barnett found out she had COVID just two days after her 22nd birthday, but thought she was young and healthy enough to avoid becoming seriously unwell.

But not long after testing positive she began struggling to breathe and needed an urgent admission to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, Wales.

The marketing student was soon put in an induced coma for five days and had to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat and sleep during her recovery.

Barnett said she wasn’t vaccinated because as she was young with no health conditions she felt “safe”.

But after her experience she said she wants to “raise awareness of the importance of the vaccine” and how COVID “can affect anyone”.

Ffion Barnett lost her hair following her stay in ICU. (Reach)
Ffion Barnett lost her hair following her stay in ICU. (Reach)

Barnett, who works in a cafe and lives in Tonypandy, Rhondda, said she “wasn't particularly worried” after testing positive for coronavirus.

But when her breathing became increasingly laboured, she was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital on 12 August last year – a week after testing positive.

She said: "I spoke to my mother who works at the hospital as a bank nurse. She knew that my breathing was very heavy and told me to go straight to hospital…

Watch: Boris Johnson calls for people to get their booster amid Omicron surge

“They [medics] did all my observations and stats and put me straight on oxygen. I then remember being taken to ward three where I spent the night.

“I had a funny turn there where I couldn't get up or walk.”

After being admitted to ICU, Barnett was put in an induced coma as doctors grew increasingly concerned about her high heart rate which they thought could result in her going into cardiac arrest.

She was also struck down with COVID-induced pneumonia.

Ffion Barnett recovered from COVID in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Wales. (Creative Commons/Chris Hodcroft/Geograph)
Ffion Barnett recovered from COVID in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Wales. (Creative Commons/Chris Hodcroft/Geograph)

Barnett said she was given "every machine going" to try and improve her oxygen levels, but they wouldn't work.

Eventually she turned a corner after a 12-day spell in intensive care and was put back on a ward.

She ended up spending two weeks and five days in hospital and towards the end of her stay she had to learn how to talk, walk and eat properly again.

"When I did manage to talk it just wasn't my voice. Then when I got home I needed looking after. I needed help bathing, people had to make my food for me," she added.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/01/02: A government advert urges people to get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots on a bus stop in King's Cross, as the Omicron variant of coronavirus spreads across the globe. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A government advert urges people to get COVID vaccine booster shots on a bus stop in King's Cross, London. (Getty)

One unusual side-effect from the trauma of being in ICU was Ffion losing all her hair.

Barnett, who has now had her COVID vaccinations, said she has almost fully recovered from the disease but remains lethargic all the time.

Figures released on Tuesday showed there had been more than 400,000 booster and third doses of the COVID vaccine recorded across the UK during the four-day New Year period.

A total of 34,363,986 extra doses had been delivered as of 3 January, while around 64% of all adults in the UK have now received a booster or third dose.

Watch: Govt needed to do more to tackle COVID in schools, Labour says

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