Kate Garraway has paid tribute to the nurses who “poured love and skill” into looking after her husband Derek Draper during his battle with Covid.
The 53-year-old former political adviser was in hospital for a year after being admitted with coronavirus symptoms and placed in a coma.
He has now been reunited with Garraway and their children, Darcey and Billy, at their family home.
Marking International Nurses’ Day, Garraway told Heart Breakfast: “We all go ‘That doctor who saved my life’, ‘Thank you to that incredible surgeon’, but, as I’ve seen over the last 14 months, it’s actually the care of nurses that – especially when you’re dealing with something like Covid where there is no cure, and not enough is yet known about how to treat the symptoms although I’m sure the medical profession will get there – it’s their incredible care that has saved Derek’s life. It’s that simple.”
She added: “I did a little bit of work with the Royal College of Nursing a few years back, and before then I was very ignorant, and I saw nurses very much in the role of the nurse from Fireman Sam, you know, so they came along and put plasters on.
“Or you see the nurses in A&E, but you don’t realise that nursing covers such a wide spectrum – mental health nursing, in care homes, it can be as simple as holding someone’s hand, it can be as big as making sure you get the right kit there when someone needs their life saving.
“And with Derek, for a lot of his time he was in a prolonged disorder of consciousness, so effectively a coma, and every day the nurses would go in – of course we couldn’t, his family couldn’t – and they would go in and I just thought it was miraculous because they would say ‘Good morning Derek, how are you this morning?’
“And if you think about having to exude love out of yourself to someone who is unconscious, not responsive, not able to say thank you, not able to acknowledge it, they did it continuously, relentlessly, and that must have been what was a big part of trying to haul Derek from this frightening place he was in.
“It was a turning point for me watching them talk to Derek, because finding joy right now for everybody, which is why today’s so important, is so hard, and I was struggling to hang on to hope, whilst also thinking ‘Am I just being unrealistic?’
“But when I watched them pouring love and skill into Derek, every single day, and even though they had no idea whether it was going to work, they had no idea whether they could win the war against Covid, and they also are putting their own lives at risk by exposing themselves to Covid, I just thought that’s just the definition of hope, it makes me want to cry now.”
Breakfast host Amanda Holden also got emotional while thanking the nurse who looked after her when she came out of a coma following the stillbirth of her son Theo.
She said: “I personally would like to thank the nurses – I know I talk about this a lot, and I never know whether I talk too much about it – obviously when we lost our son Theo to a stillbirth.
“The hospital where I was looked after was unbelievable and Jackie Nash got us through so much, Pippa Nightingale, Natalie Carter, and when I came out of a coma, there was a nurse who I never knew the name of, who brushed my tangled, matted hair from spending so much time lying down.
“She fed me, washed me, and put me in a dressing gown so that when family came to see me they wouldn’t have to be scared seeing me looking like Stig of the Dump, so whoever that nurse was, I don’t know who you are, but I will be forever grateful.”
Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2011 and in 2013 had surgery for a second aneurysm on the other side of her brain, also praised nurses for their hard work.
She wrote on Instagram: “I continue to be so proud to be @thercn ambassador!
“Nurses across the world continue to amaze us all in their unceasing care and love for their patients during this incredibly frightening time for us all.
“In 2021, we seek to show how nursing will look into the future as well how the profession will transform the next stage of healthcare.
“Please join me today in celebrating all nurses everywhere for being our constant when everything around is anything but.
“All my love to all the nurses across the globe everyday but especially today!!”