A morbidly obese father-of-two who spent nine weeks in hospital with Covid-19 has revealed his brush with death inspired him to overhaul his previously unhealthy lifestyle.
Daimon Keith, 50, from Trafford, was deemed too ill to be placed on a ventilator when he was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital in March 2020, after complaining of breathing issues.
He needed to be put on a life-saving ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine – which takes over a patient’s heart and lung functions to allow the organs to recover.
He has slowly been able to recover and, since being released from hospital, Daimon has transformed his lifestyle and lost 30kg (4st 10lbs) after quitting smoking, vaping and drinking alcohol.
Daimon Keith, 50, from Trafford, who spent nine weeks in hospital with Covid-19 has revealed his brush with death inspired him to overhaul his previously unhealthy lifestyle (pictured on the day he was admitted to hospital)
The quantity surveyor fell ill shortly after a fishing trip on the Zambezi River in Africa and believed he initially had contracted malaria (pictured)
The quantity surveyor, who lives with his wife Dorcus, first became ill in March 2020.
Having just returned from a fishing trip on the Zambezi River in Africa, he initially thought he’d contracted malaria.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he explained: ‘I came back on the 1st March 2020 and on the 18th I started to feel like my breathing was quite laboured and I had a temperature.
‘I lived in Africa for three or four years and I thought all the symptoms were similar to malaria.
Since being released from hospital, Daimon has transformed his lifestyle and has lost 30kg (4st 10lbs) after quitting smoking, vaping and drinking alcohol (pictured with his sons Charlie and Henry at Christmas)
‘I had to lay down and my breathing was getting worse so on the 23rd I rang an ambulance from home. I knew something wasn’t right.
What is an ECMO machine?
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines, typically used for those with heart and lung issues, pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, which allows the heart and lungs to rest.
Researchers in Japan were among the first, if not the first, to report that ECMO appeared to be help patients with the virus.
Doctors began using the machines to treat patients who were stuck aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama.
The machines are not available at every hospital and, because they are costly and intensive, they are not a practical solution for ventilator shortages.
But the treatment has shown promise for patients that haven’t responded to standard therapies and experimental drugs.
‘I’m not a drama queen – I wouldn’t ever waste a doctor’s time because I know how pressured things can be for them – but I knew I needed to get to hospital before it was too late.’
Daimon was taken to the Emergency Department at Wythenshawe Hospital, where a chest X-ray caused concerns for medics.
‘You don’t realise how sick you are or what is going to happen,’ he said.
‘I remember coming round at one point and my wife was stood in the corner and my brother was on the other side of a glass window.
‘My wife is Kenyan and she has only lived here two years. I just remember telling my brother that he would have to sort everything out for her. I guess I was preparing for what would happen if I died.
After that Daimon doesn’t remember much – just the sounds on the ward and coming in and out of consciousness.
The team looking after him decided the best way to treat Daimon was place him on the ECMO machine – to help his organs recover from the Covid.
It’s reserved for the sickest patients, and Wythenshawe is one of just five adult ECMO centres in the country.
The next time he woke up, it was seven weeks later.
‘They knocked me out on the day I went in, 23rd March,’ said Daimon.
‘The next time I woke up I was on the respiratory ward and it was mid-May. I couldn’t believe I’d lost seven weeks – I’d missed my mum’s birthday and Henry’s birthday – so much had happened while I’d been unconscious.’
Daimon had lost almost 40kg at this point and had suffered muscle wastage.
The ECMO machine had undoubtedly saved his life, but he then had to teach himself how to walk, eat, and do basic things again.
He explained: ‘Losing seven weeks was very weird – I hadn’t known that the Prime Minister got Covid.I didn’t know about the country completely changing in April.’
At one stage during his Covid battle, Daimon remembers speaking to his brother about looking after his wife Dorcus if he were to die (pictured together in early 2020)
In total Daimon spent nine weeks in hospital – two weeks on ECMO and seven weeks in Intensive Care and respiratory wards.
Since being released from hospital, Daimon has quit smoking and vaping, no longer drinks alcohol and has lost 30kg (around 4stone 10lb).
He has a long road to full recovery, and still feels the effects of contracting coronavirus ten months after leaving hospital.
‘I was morbidly obese when I contracted coronavirus,’ Daimon said.
The ECMO machine saved Daimon’s life, but he then had to teach himself how to walk, eat, and do basic things again
‘I still think I would have ended up in hospital, but my weight certainly didn’t help my body’s ability to fight the virus.
‘I’ve now quit smoking and drinking and, for the first time in my life, I’ve joined a gym. Obviously I can’t go at the moment but I can’t wait for them to reopen.
‘It’s been a hard, tough journey and I’m still not 100% but there have been lots of positives.
‘It’s incredibly hard for people who have lost someone and I do feel very thankful and lucky that I survived.’
OBESITY: ADULTS WITH A BMI OVER 30 ARE SEEN AS OBESE
Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.
A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age.
For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.
Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese.
The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.
This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.
Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.
Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.
Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.
Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers.
This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.
Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.
Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults.
And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.
As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.
Daimon has long term damage to the bottom of his lungs, but says he is dedicated to getting fit and ‘changing his life.’
Meanwhile his teenage sons, Charlie and Henry, who live with their mum in Buckinghamshire, wanted to do something to keep themselves busy whilst their dad was in hospital.
‘We like cycling anyway and it was about the only thing we could really do during lockdown,’said Henry, 15.
‘We decided to cycle the Pednor Loop which is a really hilly 10km loop near our house. We did it once a day for 69 days – the total amount of time dad was in hospital.’
After their father’s Covid-19 battle, Daimon’s sons Charlie and Henry have raised over £9,000 for Wythenshawe Hospital Charity, which supports continuing excellence in treatment, research and care
His older brother Charlie, aged 17, said: ‘We initially thought we’d raise about £1,000 but then the fundraising page just kept going up.
‘We raised £9,033.31 in total and then my grandma and auntie gave another £550 at Christmas.
‘It’s an amazing amount of money. We heard a day on the ECMO machine costs the NHS about £10,000 so it’s nice to think we’ve almost done a day’s worth.’
All the funds raised by Charlie, Henry and their family will go to Wythenshawe Hospital Charity, which supports continuing excellence in treatment, research and care.
Daimon has long term damage to the bottom of his lungs, but says he is dedicated to getting fit and ‘changing his life’
Daimon explained: ‘Everyone at Wythenshawe was absolutely fantastic, I just can’t thank them enough for everything they did. It’s not a job for them – it’s a vocation. They are incredibly caring.’
Wythenshawe Hospital Charity’s Community Fundraising Officer, Jo Thomas, said: ‘The whole team here at Wythenshawe is incredibly grateful to Daimon’s family for all their wonderful support.
‘Daimon is rightly very proud of his sons and we’re so pleased thisexperience has led him towards a healthier lifestyle too. We wish Daimon the best of luck in the rest of his recovery.’