Father, 52, 'cheats death four times' during 19 stays in hospital

Father, 52, ‘cheats death four times’ after surviving severe pancreatitis, Covid, bouts of sepsis and surgery on melon sized cyst during 19 stays in hospital

  • Ray Snow, from Essex, was diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis last March
  • Then he got Covid and three bouts of sepsis, with 94% of his pancreas killed off
  • Father-of-one endured 19 hospital stays, lost five stone and broke out in boils
  • He had to say a reluctant goodbye to wife Jackie as his condition still worsened
  • But against all odds he pulled through after 5L of fluid drained from his organs
  • IT worker Ray said: ‘I was told by my consultant I should have died four times’

A father ‘cheated death four times’ after surviving severe pancreatitis, Covid, bouts of sepsis and surgery on a melon sized cyst during 19 stays in hospital. 

Ray Snow, 52, was diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis in March last year after a gallstone got trapped in his pancreas.

Then he got Covid followed by three bouts of sepsis all while 94 per cent of his pancreas was killed off by his condition.

After 19 different hospital stays, losing five stone, breaking out in boils, and intense surgery, he finally said a reluctant goodbye to wife Jackie, 53.

Against all odds, however, he pulled through after surgeons drained five litres of fluid from his organs.

Father-of-one Ray said: ‘I was told by my consultant that I should have died four times.


Ray Snow (pictured left at his most ill and right in recovery) was diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis in March last year after a gallstone got trapped in his pancreas. Then he got Covid followed by three bouts of sepsis all while 94 per cent of his pancreas was killed off by his condition.

Ray (pictured with wife Jackie), a former professional cyclist, is now back on his bike and raising money for digestive diseases charity Guts UK by cycling the equivalent distance from Lands End to John O Groats on a static bike

 Acute pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas – an organ behind the stomach which aides digestion – becomes inflamed in a short amount of time.

Sufferers usually see an improvement in symptoms in about a week – however things can get serious in some cases.

It can be caused by excessive alcohol drinking or gallstones – but the cause can remain unclear.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea and sudden, intense pain in the middle of the abdomen.

‘I just burst in to tears that day when I said ‘goodbye’ to Jackie. I could see her eyes welling up as they wheeled me away.

‘We thought it was the last time we were going to see each other. All I kept thinking is that face is the reason to keep fighting.

‘Now I know this body can do much more than it has so far.’

IT worker Ray from Benfleet, Essex, was diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis in March.

In April, Ray then contracted Covid-19 and spent several weeks in hospital while still battling with inflamed organs from his first brush with death.

The second great escape came when one of three episodes of sepsis hit his struggling body.

Then sepsis and a colon infection nearly killed him again in July.

A melon-sized cyst on his pancreas blocked off his stomach and he was fed through a tube in his nose, but he suffered an allergic reaction and came out in boils.

He had to lie on his back for nine months, lost five stone and then nearly died again with a staggering five litres of fluid collected around his abdomen.


After 19 different hospital stays, losing five stone, breaking out in boils, and surgery on a melon sized cyst (pictured left in hospital), he finally said a reluctant goodbye to wife Jackie, 53. But against all the odds he pulled through after surgeons drained five litres of fluid from his organs (pictured right today)

All the complications were related to his pancreas.

He said: ‘It was all absolutely awful. It hurt so much.

‘They said a lot of the fluid coming out of my pancreas and going around my organs in my abdomen was the stuff the body uses to break down meat.

‘I was beginning to digest myself at that point. It was terrifying.’

Fearing he wouldn’t make it through the operation in October, he said goodbye to his wife Jackie. He finally came home the week before Christmas.

He said: ‘Christmas wasn’t about presents, it was about being able to sit in a room with each other.

‘I’m looking forward to going back to work, but I had the balance wrong before.

‘If I was offered a million pounds or my health I’d choose health.’

Ray, a former professional cyclist, is now back on his bike and raising money for digestive diseases charity Guts UK by cycling the equivalent distance from Lands End to John O Groats on a static bike.

What are the key symptoms of sepsis? The ‘silent killer’ that can cause death in minutes

Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, strikes when an infection such as blood poisoning sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs. 

It is a potentially life-threatening condition, triggered by an infection or injury.  Around 245,000 people develop sepsis in the UK each year and 52,000 die, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Instead of attacking the invading bug, the body turns on itself, shutting down vital organs.

If caught early enough, it’s easily treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids, but these must be given as soon as sepsis is suspected – it strikes with frightening speed and, for every hour of delay, a patient’s chance of dying increases 8 per cent.

Sepsis is a leading cause of avoidable death killing 44,000 people each year

The early symptoms of sepsis can be easily confused with more mild conditions, meaning it can be difficult to diagnose. 

A high temperature (fever), chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat and rapid breathing are also indicators. 

A patient can rapidly deteriorate if sepsis is missed early on, so quick diagnosis and treatment is vital – yet this rarely happens. 

In the early stages, sepsis can be mistaken for a chest infection, flu or upset stomach. 

It is most common and dangerous in older adults, pregnant women, children younger than one, people with chronic conditions or those who have weakened immune systems.  

The six signs of something potentially deadly can be identified by the acronym ‘SEPSIS’:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine in a day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • Skin that’s mottled or discoloured  

Anyone who develops any of these symptoms should seek medical help urgently — and ask doctors: ‘Could this be sepsis?’ 

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