Dad survives coronavirus after being given 'zero chance'

Lifestyle Team
·3-min read

Sue Martin had to go to hospital with her children to say their final goodbyes to her diabetic husband and their dad Mal, 58, after he fell ill from the coronavirus.

The 49-year-old was given the devastating news by doctors that a “very, very healthy” Mal had “zero chance” of pulling through.

But Sue and children Hana, 16, and William, 13, have now been told he should be home this week - three months after his coronavirus fight began.

“All the medical staff say Mal was so close to death that his recovery can only be described as miraculous,” the mum told UK Radio Four's Today show.

Sue and Mal Martine and children Hana, 16, and William, 13,
Sue and children Hana, 16, and William, 13, had to say goodbye to Mal in hospital. Photo: Australscope

Sue said she and the children had been allowed to visit Mal's bedside for a few minutes. Covered from head to toe in PPE.

“We said our goodbyes to him. We'd been told he would likely die the following day,” she recalls.

“When the dreaded call from the consultant came the next day, he told us there had been a tiny improvement which meant a drug supporting Mal's blood pressure could be reduced; not enough to raise too much hope but a glimmer nonetheless.

“For the next few weeks it was touch and go. Medics worked at simply keeping Mal alive, giving his body a change of fighting the virus.”

Mal first became unwell with symptoms of coronavirus on 19 March and after 10 days he was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

The family were in a "sickening limbo" for six weeks while he remained critical in hospital. He then finally tested negative for coronavirus but his body was left extremely weak with kidney failure.

“When Mal eventually woke up he was so weak he could only respond by blinking,” she says.

“The very first time we FaceTimed him was horrific. He was lying there, lifeless. His eyes were open but he wasn't really seeing.”

mal martin coronavirus
Mal first became unwell with symptoms of coronavirus on 19 March . Photo: Australscope

He was eventually fitted with a speech valve on his tracheotomy and asked his wife: “Hiya, how are you?”

“They'd warned us that it might not sound like him but it did. It sounded exactly like him! He made a joke, something about the bed baths being good,” she says.

“It was starting to sound like him, starting to look like him, it is him, he's in there, he's come back to us. That was the first bit of light in a very dark time.”

Mal spent 61 days on a ventilator and spent 80 days in ICU after catching pneumonia for a third time.

He would be scared to fall asleep and would ask his wife: "Am I really going to make it?"

But his strength is now building and he is walking up flights of stairs unaided.

martin family
He now can't wait to watch his son play footy. Photo: Australscope

Mal's goal is to now watch his teenage son William play rugby from the pitchside.

“Given the fact they probably won't be back playing until next year, knowing Mal he'll probably be back helping them train by then,” Sue says.

The family has now thanked thousands of supporters who messaged them during their ordeal.

“So what I'd really like to say is thank you to the thousands of people, complete strangers not only from the UK, but Australia, Spain, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand, around the world, who wrote to me, messaged me, left comments on social media, and others who held us in their thoughts for a moment.

“I can't describe what a comfort and help that was.”

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