'He WILL wake up' - wife tells of teacher's 203-day Covid fight for life

Sean Hunte, from Eaton, is now recovering at home after 203 days in hospital. 

Sean Hunte, from Eaton, is now recovering at home after 203 days in hospital. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

A Norwich teacher who spent 203 days in hospital with Covid has told how his life hung in the balance as he took "two steps forward, 100 back".

Sean Hunte, from Eaton, was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for his diabetes on January 3, but was diagnosed with Covid while there.

He had spent a quiet Christmas Day with his wife Jennie and sons Steve, 29, and Josh, 22, but in the new year took a turn for the worse and was admitted to intensive care.

On one of their first visits to see Mr Hunte in ICU, the family sang Bob Marley's Redemption Song which he responded to with a smile, but the family could see he was not well. 

He was placed on a ventilator for the first time a day later, but his condition continued to deteriorate - the first of three occasions the family were told he might not survive. 

Mrs Hunte said: "We were told he's probably got 24 hours to live. I was so angry at him. I wasn't ready to let him go." 

Mr Hunte was then put back on a ventilator. 

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Mrs Hunte said: "I said 'put him back in a ventilator, give him time to wake up. He will wake up, he is a vibrant individual, he loves life. Providing there is no brain damage he would want to be living, put him back on the ventilator'."

Mr Hunte, who has lost seven stone while in hospital, went on to have seven operations for pancreatitis. 

The tennis fan said: "Coming out was fantastic; the past seven months, 203 days, have been up and down. There have been times where I thought I wasn't going to make the end of the morning or the end of the week.

"There were other times, seeing my wife every day I was saying, 'I am going to do it, I'm going to make it'.'" 

Mrs Hunte described it as taking "two steps forwards, 100 back" as her husband of 30 years fought infection after infection and Covid. 

She said: "I was afraid when he tested positive for Covid, he was so desperately ill, it's all over. I kept praying and praying.

"He had a brain haemorrhage and he wasn't expected to survive that 20 years ago. He was going to survive this. 

"I've told him he's not a cat. A slate fell on his head when he was three, he had a brain haemorrhage 22 years ago and now this."

Mr Hunte said he wanted to ensure his family had good memories in case he did not survive, by trying to make them laugh every visit.

From April, Mrs Hunte was able to visit her husband daily and said it was the first time she felt things were changing for the better. 

The family hoped Mr Hunte could be out in time for Wimbledon, one of his favourite events, and then again on July 8, which was his 58th birthday. 

The next milestone was the couple's 30th wedding anniversary on July 20, but it was three days later Mr Hunte was discharged with a guard of honour.

Altogether the father-of-two spent 120 of the 203 days in critical care and also had a tracheostomy.

Mr Hunte said being at home was helping his recovery, having missed his family's Caribbean cooking, enjoying a chicken and rice dinner on his first night home.

Mr Hunte, who has seven brothers and one sister, was able to attend his brother Roy's 60th the weekend after his discharge.

He said: "It was fantastic, it was the boost I needed. I had to be there, maybe it was fear of missing out. I just wanted my family around me. I haven't seen them for the last months.

"Covid on top of the rest of it was a gamechanger, it was awful. Protect yourself against it however you can and appreciate your family, they are the only ones who get through something like this."