I know that I’ve talked with my friends and peers about what it would be like to wake up from a coma into the global chaos that was and is the coronavirus pandemic. But to actually experience that would be next level, and that’s exactly what happened with 19-year-old Joseph Flavill, mostly known as Joe. The poor kid was hit by a car, putting him into a coma, just three weeks shy before Britain’s first national lockdown was enforced. And when he woke up, understanding the impact of COVID-19 was probably a little more difficult to intake than one would expect, especially since he contracted the disease.
In March of last year, while walking near his home in Tutbury, Staffordshire, Joe got hit by a car, just shy of his 19th birthday. The impact sent the A-Level student into an 11-month coma, making him completely unaware of how the pandemic soon developed. He was rushed to Leicester General Hospital, spending six months there before moving to a neurological rehabilitation center in Stoke-on-Trent called Adderley Green.
Joseph’s Journey in an 11-Month Coma During the Coronavirus Pandemic
While in this coma, Joe also contracted COVID-19 and actually tested positive again when he woke up. Because of his traumatic brain injury, his family was concerned about how well he would receive the current situation and how difficult it would be for him to understand why they couldn’t be with him all the time due to the coronavirus restrictions. However, his aunt Sally Flavill-Smith said,
“It’s the best we have seen him recently. It might seem like little progress but the fact he can give the nurse a high five is a really big step. It’s unbelievably hard for his mum not being able to see him.We also don’t know how much he understands as his accident was before the first lockdown and it’s almost like he has slept through the whole pandemic. It’s hard as we know he is more alert, but how do you explain the pandemic to someone who has been in a coma?”
Thankfully, Joe is awake and making “amazing steps” in recovery. According to Sally, his eyes opened first without his ability to respond to anything. But over the last few weeks, he’s “really trying to engage and blinks and smiles. He’s raising his limbs on instruction.”
Due to his lack of knowledge of the COVID pandemic, Joe was originally going to take a year to go travel after completing his A-Levels. So now, 100 of his friends and family are trying to cycle, walk, run, and row the equivalent of an around-the-world trip. And his family has also set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to help cover the costs of future treatments, which you can donate to here.
His mother, Sharon Priestley, also keeps updates on a website made for Joe called josephsjourney.co.uk, where you can find out more information on the fundraiser and on the spectacular kid, Joe is. She mentions how Joe was supposed to attend Buckingham Palace to receive his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and how loved by and active in the community Joe was.
Although there is light in this story, it’s a massive wake-up call to how the pandemic is still a very real issue. Facetime or video call your loved ones when you can and donate PPE to hospitals that need it. Vaccinations may have started rolling out, but life is still moving around us whether we can keep up with it or not.