A Perthshire man has told how rigorous Covid-19 measures at Ninewells Hospital saved his life.
Andrew Campbell Smith was warned he may have contracted the virus after he fell ill in the small hours with a severe fever and shortage of breath.
The 58-year-old widower was fully assessed by hospital staff and put in isolation.
But it turned out Mr Smith didn’t have coronavirus, but instead a severe case of urosepsis which was threatening to destroy his kidneys.
He was whisked off for emergency life-saving surgery. One doctor told Mr Smith it was lucky the problem was detected in time.
“His words to me were: this was a close call,” said Mr Smith, now recovering at his home in Dunning.
“If I hadn’t been sent to Ninewells for a coronavirus assessment, the problem might never have been found and I was told I could easily have lost my kidney or got septicaemia.”
The drama began when Mr Smith had a home-made curry on Friday, March 20.
“It seemed fine, but in the early hours of the next morning I began to feel really unwell, with really painful cramps,” he said.
Mr Smith was driven to Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI) by his girlfriend and checked out at A&E, where he was told it was food poisoning and to go back home and rest.
But at home, his condition developed into “a fever like I’ve never had before”.
By the early hours of Sunday, he was having convulsions and was struggling to breathe.
They drove back to PRI and Andrew went inside on his own.
“As soon as I told them I was running a fever and could hardly breathe, they gave me a mask and prodded me with a stick to go outside,” he said.
“I was told to straight through to the coronavirus assessment centre at Ninewells. When I got there, they took me in pretty quickly and asked me a number of questions.”
Andrew was then sent to an isolation room to wait for a doctor.
“He came in with the full hazmat suit and visor,” Mr Smith said.
“He had been doing a lot of Covid-19 testing and he told me he didn’t think it was the virus, but rather a kidney problem.”
Andrew was given a CT scan on his kidneys and found that they were infected.
“I was told I needed an emergency procedure,” he said. “But they couldn’t go ahead until they had the result of my Covid-19 assessment.
“Because there was a sense of urgency, we got the results back in about four or five hours. Thankfully, it came back negative.”
Mr Smith was taken to theatre within 30 minutes for an emergency nephrostomy. “There was a team of about eight or nine in the theatre,” he said.
“I was under local anaesthetic, and it was an amazing experience, although obviously not a pleasant one.
“These guys were just so professional, it was incredible. I was totally in awe of all the staff I saw that day.
“The surgeon who was operating on my back opened me up and told me I was very lucky. He said I had been about to lose a kidney and it was a close call.”
Andrew is now recovering at home, in self isolation. “The staff at the NHS were nothing short of fantastic, just brilliant.
“I described them as an army of earth angels.”
He said: “It’s seem strange to say it, but in a way the coronavirus saved me. Otherwise, I might have dismissed what I had as food poisoning and who knows what would have happened?”
Mr Smith now uses a nephrostomy catheter and said he is getting better every day. “I just feel very lucky,” he said.
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