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Covid-19 survivor, 26, tells of 'nightmares and flashbacks'

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image captionAndrew Unwin and his father, Derek, have since completed a charity cycle ride in aid of the hospital that treated him

A 26-year-old man who spent 11 days in intensive care with Covid-19 has spoken of the mental anguish he still suffers five months on.

Within days of falling ill in April, Andrew Unwin from Dartford, Kent, said he was "struggling to breathe" and became "petrified" he would die.

He suffered two collapsed lungs and doctors at Darent Velley Hospital in Dartford placed him in an induced coma.

He said: "I still have flashbacks about the oxygen mask going on my face."

Mr Unwin and his father have since completed a 35-mile (56 km) cycle ride to raise money for the hospital.

"I want to give something back. I really feel they saved my life," he said.

'Absolutely terrified'

Mr Unwin is asthmatic but says he was otherwise healthy and a keen cyclist when the coronavirus struck.

He said he initially "didn't really feel that unwell" but then his cough worsened and his temperature soared.

When his father called an ambulance he was transferred to hospital, where his condition "rapidly deteriorated".

Eventually, it was decided he needed to be placed into a coma to give his body a chance to fight the virus.

image copyrightAndrew Unwin
image captionMr Unwin (left) said he has recovering physically but still faced mental trauma

"The worst thing was calling my wife and parents to say goodbye," he said.

"I was absolutely terrified. I thought I was going to die."

Doctors later placed him on his front in the so-called prone position, which he said was a turning point.

His oxygen levels began to recover.

Recalling the moment doctors finally brought him round, he said: "I remember thinking 'I'm alive. I've made it. I've beaten this horrible virus'."

However, five months later Mr Unwin said he still faces daily struggles.

"It's my mental state", he said. "I have nightmares and flashbacks.

"I can still see the oxygen mask going over my face as I'm put to sleep. I wake up in a panic, sweating."

As cases rise across the UK, particularly among the young, he has urged others to "take the virus seriously".

He added: "I nearly paid the ultimate price. At one point I wasn't even breathing for myself. I could have died."

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