Doctor forced to choose between looking after his cancer-battling son and saving COVID-19 patients’ lives

A doctor had to make the heart-tearing decision between saving the lives of coronavirus patients or looking after his three-year-old cancer-battling son.

Nick Dennison is a consultant anesthetist at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. Currently, he has been re-loaded to work as an intensive care doctor along with the rest of his team in a bid to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, Nick will be exposed to the virus on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Nick’s son Alfie, 3, is battling cancer, and he is at high risk of contracting the virus.

That’s why Nick decided to live in a motor home for the next six months while working on the NHS frontline.

Facebook: Nick Dennison

On March 22, the doctor posted his heartbreaking story on Facebook. He shares how his son Alfie, who turned three a week ago, is six weeks into a three-year chemotherapy program for lymphoma. This is a type of blood cancer, which means people who are battling it are classified as ‘extremely vulnerable’ as they are at risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus. Nick shares:

“This virus is a big threat to his life and as I am going to be exposed this week doing my job, I can no longer live at home.”

The father continues, explaining that he would be moving into another home, away from his family, so he doesn’t put their lives at risk.

This means he would not be able to take any further part in looking after his 3-year-old for the next 6 months. Furthermore, Nick continues:

“I have had to make the difficult choice: to do my job and save lives of people I don’t know, or to be with my son whilst he battles cancer. Alfie hopefully will survive his cancer and chemo, but many people will die from flu. My heart is broken making this decision, but I choose to save the lives of strangers and leave him in the care of my beautiful wife and family.”

Tragically, the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust reported the deaths of five further patients tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. According to Nick, the intensive care unit at his hospital was already full, with 12 people on ventilators and ‘more requiring ventilation every day’.

The doctor shares that usually, his hospital has between four and ten patients on ventilators.

Due to the pandemic, they are now expecting 80 patients to require ventilation.

Nick’s post ends with a plea to everyone out there to socially isolate, as this is vital during the coronavirus outbreak. He believes that people are not taking the pandemic seriously enough.

“It seems the public health message is not getting through. Let me be clear. A lot of people are going to die. They will mainly be 70 years plus but be in no doubt, 30-40 year olds will die too.”

Additionally, the doctor claims it’s everyone’s social responsibility to engage in self-isolation, as our actions now would prevent further disease transmission. Moreover, he warns that the virus has already been spread around the globe and it will not be stopped until it has nowhere to go.

“Bottom line. SOCIALLY ISOLATE or people die in two weeks.”

By March 27, the coronavirus cases in the UK are 11,658, with 578 deaths. 

Doctor Nick Dennison posted his story hours before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a country-wide lockdown on March 23. For at least three weeks, residents are only allowed outside to buy food or medication, exercise alone once a day, or to travel to work if absolutely necessary.

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