A father of two from Essex has been discharged from Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust after more than five months fighting coronavirus.

Rajinder Singh, 38, had been in a local hospital for two weeks before being admitted to the Cambridge hospital on 31 January and put onto ECMO.

ECMO is an artificial lung which oxygenates blood outside the body allowing someone’s lungs to recover while medical and nursing teams apply other treatments. It been used as a last hope for patients in the fight against COVID-19 when other forms of ventilation have proven unsuccessful.

He was discharged from critical care in June after 142 days, 132 of which were spent on ECMO; that’s the longest a patient has ever been supported on ECMO at Royal Papworth.

After 151 days at Royal Papworth Hospital, staff gathered to clap Mr Singh as he was discharged.

Mr Singh then spent a further nine days on a respiratory ward, taking his total inpatient stay to 151 days, before being discharged on Thursday 1 July.

He’ll now continue his recovery at his local hospital close to where he lives with his wife, Sukhpal, and two children, aged 4 and 1.

“The staff have been so good to me,” said Rajinder, who is a double glazing fitter. They have been kind, compassionate and helpful. They treated me like a member of their own family and I consider them my friends.

“Throughout my stay, my family were always spoken to and given updates on my condition, sometimes multiple times a day.

“I’m not going home yet but I’ll be a few miles from my home so hopefully it will be easier for my wife to visit me more often. I can’t wait to see my wife and children and give them a hug. I’ve missed them so much.

“I feel stronger every day and, when I can, I will get my COVID-19 vaccine as I’ve been in hospital during most of the time the vaccine has been rolled out.”

Rajinder was put into an induced coma in January from which he awoke in April. During his stay he’s been cared for by hundreds of members of staff, from nurses to doctors and perfusionists to pharmacists.

“Before COVID-19, it would have been unfathomable to support a patient on ECMO for so long,” explained Jo-anne Fowles, Consultant Nurse for ECMO and Critical Care at Royal Papworth Hospital.

“This really is an exceptional case. For context, the average length of time for our patients supported on ECMO pre COVID was about 14 days. During the first surge in spring 2020, the average time for our COVID-19 patients on ECMO was extended to more like 30 days. Some needed longer, but Mr Singh is the longest we have ever supported a patient on ECMO at Royal Papworth Hospital.

“During the past five months all the staff who work on critical care have got to know Rajinder well. To see his condition improve to the point where we could discharge him to our colleagues on our respiratory ward and then back to his local hospital is wonderful.

“On behalf of everyone at Royal Papworth Hospital, we send our kindest regards to Rajinder and his family and wish him all the best in his recovery.”