The Wokingham Paper

'My heart is broken making this decision' – Doctor's plea for people to self-isolate as son faces chemotherapy

Dr Nick Dennison
Dr Nick Dennison

A DOCTOR whose three-year-old son is facing a battle with cancer has written a heartfelt plea for people to heed Government advice to socially distance themselves. 

Nick Dennison, who works as a consultant anaesthetist at Frimley Park Hospital, posted the message on social media at the weekend, warning people of the risks that the coronavirus poses. 

The message reveals the pressures that the NHS is under and also the personal sacrifice that he is making to help treat people who are hospitalised by the virus. 

Dr Dennison has pledged to live in a motor home for six months, while his son receives chemotherapy. 

He wrote: “I have had to make the difficult choice; to do my job and save lives of people I don’t know or to be with my son whilst he battles cancer. 

“Alfie hopefully will survive the cancer and the chemo but many people will die from flu.  

“My heart is broken making this decision but I choose to save the lives of strangers and leave him in the care of my beautiful wife and family.”

And for those patients he will be treating, he said that the sickest will be put on to ventilators/life support machines for at least 10 days, and they may need “a temporary  tracheostomy to get them off the ventilator”.

He warned: “It seems the public health message is not getting through. Let me be clear. 

“A lot of people are going to die.  They will mainly be 70 years+ but be in no doubt, 30- to 40-year-olds will die too. 

“Pubs have been busy, offices open, social events happening, kid parties etc. It all needs to stop.   

“This virus has been transmitted around the globe unchecked and will not stop until it has nowhere to go – social distancing or patient death.”

He added: “Bottom line. SOCIALLY ISOLATE or people die in two weeks.”

Dr Nick Dennison’s note in full: 

From Dr. Nick Dennison

I have not posted on FP for a long time so read this

I’m a consultant anaesthetist working at Frimley Park hospital and this week all the anaesthetists are being re-rolled as intensive care doctors.  We will be tasked with putting the sickest patients under anaesthetic and onto ventilators/life support machines.  

Each patient will require 10 days + on a ventilator then may need a temporary tracheostomy to get them off the ventilator.

The intensive care unit is already full of COVID-19 patients on ventilators (12) with more requiring ventilation every day.  My hospital usually has 4-10 patients on ventilators and is planning and EXPECTING 80 patients to require ventilation.

It seems the public health message is not getting through. Let me be clear. 

A lot of people are going to die.  They will mainly be 70 years+ but be in no doubt, 30- to 40-year-olds will die too. 

Pubs have been busy, offices open, social events happening, kid parties etc. It all needs to stop.   

Infected people shed virus and it must be everywhere by now.  It is our social responsibility to engage in social distancing. Actions NOW can prevent further disease transmission, ICU admissions and deaths in 10-20 days.

Two of my anaesthetic/ICU colleagues in other hospitals are off work due to being infected  (doing OK). As health care workers, we are EXPECTING to catch it despite PPE.   

This virus has been transmitted around the globe unchecked and will not stop until it has nowhere to go – social distancing or patient death.  

Here ends my public health message.

On a more personal level, my son turned three-years-old last week and is six weeks into a three- year chemotherapy programme for lymphoma.  This virus is a big threat to his life and as I am going to be exposed this week doing my job, I can no longer live at home.

I have had to make the difficult choice; to do my job and save lives of people I don’t know or to be with my son whilst he battles cancer. Alfie hopefully will survive the cancer and the chemo but many people will die from flu.  My heart is broken making this decision but I choose to save the lives of strangers and leave him in the care of my beautiful wife and family.

Later this week I will be moving into a motor home and will not be able to take any further part in his care for the next six months

Bottom line. SOCIALLY ISOLATE or people die in two weeks.

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