Areeb Khan suffered nerve damage while she was sick and is re-learning how to walk at Queen’s Hospital (Credit: BHRUT)
Areeb Khan collapsed inside her home after her oxygen levels dropped to below 50 per cent on Tuesday, 10 August.
The 16-year-old was rushed to King George Hospital and her distraught parents were told she had a 50/50 chance of survival.
She was transferred to Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge a couple of days later for a specialist form of treatment called ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation).
ECMO is a form of life support that adds oxygen to the patient’s blood while removing carbon dioxide.
It is only ever used after all other options have failed and represents a patient’s last hope for recovery.
“I was the first 16-year-old to have ECMO at the Royal Papworth,” said Areeb. “Hope was very low.
“I started responding and was taken off the machine, but then I became very poorly and had to go back on it.
“I seemed to take a few steps forward, and then a few more back again; it was a very slow improvement.”
Areeb suffered nerve damage while she was ill and had to re-learn many basic skills, such as walking, while also suffering from hair loss.
She began her rehabilitation at Queen’s Hospital in October and was very grateful for all the support she received.
“So many people spent time keeping me alive and I feel very lucky that I am,” added Areeb.
“Nurses spent hours holding my hand and when my long hair become tangled after so long in bed, they cut it for me. They also played me music and verses from the Quran.
“I feel my life belongs to the doctors and nurses, everyone, who looked after me. I want to thank them for everything and it’s motivated me in my dream to become a doctor – I want to be a brain surgeon.”
Areeb first fell sick a few days before 16 and 17-year-olds were invited to get vaccinated and she is sharing her story to encourage others to get jabbed and stay safe.
“I wish I could have had the vaccine,” said Areeb. “I think my story should absolutely encourage others to have it.
“I was given a 50/50 chance of survival, which was very hard for my family, I had ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) which was a last resort. I’ve been in hospital so long, I just want to do normal things.
“I didn’t take it seriously enough before – I had no underlying conditions and even the doctors were shocked that I was so poorly.
“I never would have thought I could get through such an experience, but I feel mentally and physically stronger now and I’m excited to go home.”
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