Father nearly dies from chicken pox

AN ARMY technician who nearly died from double organ failure after catching chicken pox from his son has thanked the Suffolk hospital that saved his life.

AN ARMY technician who nearly died from double organ failure after catching chicken pox from his son has thanked the Suffolk hospital that saved his life.

Martin Riley, known as Mac, was admitted to the critical care unit at Ipswich Hospital after contracting the illness in November last year.

The 37-year-old Army sergeant, who was stationed at RAF Wattisham when he became ill, was sedated for three weeks and woke to discover he had not only had a tracheotomy, but had come dangerously close to dying after suffering lung and kidney failure.

But Mr Riley, who is one of just two Non Destructive Testing (NDT) Technicians employed by the Army, not only made a full recovery, but has undertaken a 26-mile sponsored run to raise money for Ipswich Hospital and the staff he said he owes his life to.


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“My son, Ben, was sent home from nursery school one day because he had got chicken pox,” said Mr Riley, who is now stationed at Gosport, near to where he lives with his wife, Shelley, and Ben, who is three years old.

“I did not want to catch it so I stayed away from home for two weeks. But it is so contagious that when I did finally go back I contracted it anyway.”

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Mr Riley began to feel ill and broke out in spots. Two days later his condition had worsened, but when there was no doctor available at his local surgery, he decided to drive himself to hospital.

“I was sedated, and over the next couple of weeks I suffered respiratory and renal failure,” he said. “When I finally woke up I could not talk because I had been given a tracheotomy, and I was absolutely gobsmacked when the staff told me how ill I had been - three out of the previous five people who had been admitted to Ipswich Hospital with chicken pox had died, and I had been given odds of 60/40 against me surviving.

“I had the tracheotomy for a week after I woke up, and I eventually went home on December 19 because I just couldn't wait to leave.

“But the staff were just amazing and I have nothing but praise for them. The team there are so dedicated, and without them I don't think I would be alive.”

Mr Riley, whose has family in living in Great Barton and whose stepdaughter, Hayley Storke, owns a fashion shop in Bury St Edmunds, has raised around £600 from his marathon, with more donations still coming in. He plans to present the money to the hospital in the hope it will help other patients on the critical care unit.

He added: “I always knew chicken pox was dangerous for adults but to think I nearly died is frightening. I am so grateful to the hospital and I hope the money will help make life easier for other people on the ward.”

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