A doctor who escaped from war-torn Syria seven years ago to work in Stoke-on-Trent has told how he feared he would die after being struck down with coronavirus.
Dr Ammar Kanbar was left fighting for his life at the Royal Stoke University Hospital – an experience he described as even worse than fleeing his home country.
The renal consultant had been sent home from work to self-isolate after developing Covid-19 symptoms on April 6.
But seven days later, he collapsed and was rushed to A&E as he struggled to breathe.
It was only after a course of antibiotics that his condition started to improve.
Now Dr Kanbar has paid a heartfelt tribute to his Royal Stoke colleagues who he described as ‘heroes’.
He told Channel 4 News: “It started as simple symptoms. I was doing my job and I felt unwell and my colleague checked my temperature and it was high at 38.5C.
“My manager sent me home to have seven days self-isolation and I thought it would be as easy as this. But after seven days, on the 13th, it was very bad. I collapsed in the evening and the ambulance team rushed me to hospital.
“When I got the Covid I was very scared because I thought I would die and leave my family behind. When I went to the hospital I told the nights ambulance team that I might die.
“As a young patient my parameters wasn’t very bad. In the first instance the doctor wanted to give me some IV paracetamol and send me home.
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“But I told her we need to be careful because young people don’t crash in no time but when they crash you may not have time to save them.
“They then gave me fluids and at the end they were convinced that I wasn’t very well and admitted me to the hospital.
“The first day the consultant who looked after me said it’s Covid symptoms and the temperature may take 14 days and we will support you.
“Then the next day I asked him for anti-biotics. After he started the antibiotics, 12 hours later it was like magic. I was a different person, a totally different person.
“The temperature disappeared, the chest pain disappeared. Then, on the fourth day, I asked him to discharge me home on oral antibitoics.”
Talking about his move from Syria to Stoke-on-Trent, Dr Kanbar admitted it had been a ‘difficult time’ seven or eight years supporting his family.
He said: “In 2012 I was working in a big military hospital as a civilian doctor then I had to leave the country because it was not a good idea to stay there, in the capital or my home town. It was chaos.
“Before I landed in the UK in 2014 I had some difficult time but I’ve never been in such a situation like Covid illness.”
Dr Kanbar, who is now well on the road to recovery, paid tribute to the NHS.
He said: “It sometimes takes seven days and people go back as healthy but unfortunately for me it took seven days at home and then four or five days in the hospital but now I am improving. There is no temperature anymore, some shortness of breath but I’m getting better.
“My message about this is that even with young people like me who don’t show that low saturation or low blood pressure doctors need to be careful. They take time to show these signs and they only collapse later.
“I would like to thank all the people in the NHS, not just the ambulance team but all the doctors, nurses. These people are amazing. The cleaners, the porters everyone. I noticed them when I was in the room. They are heroes.”