Monday, 25 Oct 2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Kiwi woman back in hospital five months later with ‘horrible’ heart, lung issues

A young Auckland woman is back in hospital suffering from the devastating effects of catching long Covid-19 in Britain five months ago.

Helena Power was rushed to North Shore Hospital last week after she was gasping for breath as a result of ongoing lung and heart issues caused by contracting the virus in December.

She told Breakfast she is unsure if she will ever fully recover.

Power, who was transported to TVNZ’s Breakfast show in a wheelchair this morning, had only been discharged for several hours before having to return to her hospital bed.

“I’m ok. I’m definitely fatigued and nauseous. I’ve been having lots of tests and things … on top of the symptoms with the heart problems that I’m having,” she said.

When the 27-year-old first caught Covid she lost her sense of smell and appetite and had a shortness of breath – but the worst came from the long-term damage happening inside her body.

“I now have fluid around my heart and lungs and that’s causing all the problems.”

She’s on medication and doctors are still working out what is happening with her as it is still new territory for them.

Power has been hospitalised numerous times since catching the UK variant of Covid in December and has been in hospital for a week already so far.

The 27-year-old spent most of last year working as a nanny for the child of a London billionaire and regularly boarded private jets to retreats in Ibiza, Switzerland and Australia.

But in December she tested positive for Covid and her plans drastically changed.

She had been due to start a new nanny job earlier this year, but due to suffering ongoing health issues returned home in February to recover.

She is now living with her parents.

Power told the Herald earlier this year that her damaged lungs resembled those of a 20-year smoker.

“They said my lungs had been damaged from having Covid,” Power said.

“Despite being 26 and never having smoked – I don’t even drink alcohol – my lungs looked like someone who had smoked for 20 years.”

She gets so short of breath she struggles to leave the house and spends up to 12 hours a day sleeping.

Both her and fellow long Covid sufferer Freya Sawbridge said on Breakfast that the new strain was impacting people so much more.

Sawbridge said death had been the only reference for the severity of the pandemic, but studies showed 30 per cent of people who got Covid would develop some type of long-term symptom.

Sawbridge caught Covid in March last year and experienced the symptoms for seven months.

She said it was absolutely horrible. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

While she classed herself as recovered she still had no sense of taste and smell.

Sawbridge, who is an administrator of the NZ Covid long haulers Facebook group, said all of its 200 members – who represented 10 per cent of people deemed to have recovered from the illness – were still suffering issues.

The pair said the consequences of Covid were real and urged New Zealanders to vaccinate to protect themselves as they warned that the country’s borders would re-open and Covid would get in and the long-term effects were awful.

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