St Annes man, 47, dies from 'Long Covid' months after being discharged from Blackpool Vic

A St Annes man has died from the long-term effects of COVID-19, two months after he was discharged from Blackpool Vic.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 8:04 am
Staff nurse Sarah Kenny with Roehl. Pic credit: Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Roehl Ribaya, a 47-year-old aerospace engineer, spent 60 days isolated from his family in the hospital's intensive care unit after he was diagnosed with coronavirus in May.

The Filipino father-of-one arrived at the Vic on May 29 where he spent 48 days in intensive care on a ventilator.

After months of treatment, he was declared 'Covid-free' and discharged from a rehabilitation ward on August 14, to the jubilation of his family and his medical team.

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Roehl's family said he "never recovered" from the long-term effects of the virus, which had taken its toll on his health and left him fighting to catch his breath

He had been the last Covid patient to be discharged from its intensive care unit before the second-wave of the pandemic led to renewed demand on the facility in September.

But Roehl's family said he "never recovered" from the long-term effects of the virus, which had taken its toll on his health and left him fighting to catch his breath.

Two months after returning home, Mr Ribaya suffered a cardiac arrest on October 13. His widow, nurse Stella Ricio-Ribaya, performed CPR on him before he was taken to hospital, where he died two days later.

Mrs Ricio-Ribaya, who lives in St Annes, said: "He was never the same. He was so breathless all the time.

Staff nurse Sarah Kenny, Dr Jason Cupitt and Roehl Ribaya. Pic credit: Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

"Please follow the government's advice so we can stop this virus.

"We don't want any more to die. He was taken too soon."

Mr Ribaya's initial recovery at Blackpool Vic was celebrated by hospital staff who lined the corridors for a round of applause as their last Covid patient was discharged from their care.

For those working relentlessly on the Vic's intensive care unit, his return home appeared to signal the end of "the first wave of this silent killer".

Dr Jason Cupitt and sister Caroline Drury. Pic credit: Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

After Mr Ribaya was discharged, lead consultant Dr Jason Cupitt said: “It’s amazing to be able to wave goodbye to our last Covid patient.

"While we have all become very fond of Roehl, the staff are so happy to say farewell because it sends out the message that we have survived the first wave of this silent killer.

"In 19 years as a consultant, this has been the most emotional roller coaster."

After learning of Mr Ribaya's death, Kevin McGee, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We were extremely saddened to hear about the death of Roehl and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time."

Angela Delabajan, a family friend, is raising money to help Roehl's widow with funeral costs.

She said: "Covid-19 is a silent killer. It has stolen the lives of many fathers, mothers, children and friends.

"Your support will surely give hope and comfort to his wife and son who also contracted the virus on its first wave and are not only struggling with the after effects of the virus like Rhoel did, but are also coping with the pain of suddenly losing a loving husband and a caring father.

"I hope you will help us in easing the burden and pain of the family he has left behind. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

"Let’s give back the hope to those who are hopeless one family at a time."

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Blackpool Vic's last Covid-19 patient Roehl Ribaya leaves intensive care unit

Friends have set up a fundraising page on Go Fund Me to raise money for Mr Ribaya's family. You can donate here.

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