A 42-year-old father who is receiving intensive care treatment after becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 says he regrets turning down the vaccine months earlier.
Gym enthusiast Artur Brylowski is normally a fit and healthy man, but after contracting COVID-19 towards the end of July 2021, he was rushed into Wrexham Maelor Hospital with breathing difficulties.
The father-of-two from Wrexham tested positive for the virus on arrival at hospital, and transferred to the Critical Care Unit due to the severity of his condition.
He said: “I began feeling quite unwell at home around a week before I came into hospital. I took some paracetamol and ibuprofen but neither made any difference and I was feeling sicker and sicker.
“My wife was extremely worried about me as I was struggling to breathe so she called for an ambulance. I don’t really remember much after that.”
Artur began to deteriorate a few days later in the Critical Care Unit and his Consultant, Dr Andy Campbell discussed the possibility of him being placed on a ventilator.
“I never expected to be this sick, I’ve had flu before but this was different, I couldn’t breathe – it was frightening.
“The doctor told me my condition was deteriorating and there was a possibility I would be placed on a ventilator as I was struggling so much with my breathing. This terrified me – I thought I’d never see my family again,” added Artur.
Artur had previously turned down the COVID vaccine when it was first offered to the over-40s back in April, he believed the virus would only severely affect the older population and if he did catch COVID he would not become severely ill.
He said: “It’s hard to say why I never took up the vaccine; it wasn’t that I was against it – I just felt it was rushed out quickly and may not be safe.
“There was also a lot of things on social media that put me off, people saying different things, some saying get the vaccine and others saying don’t.
“I thought I’d be ok, I’m only 42 and very healthy, I go to the gym on a regular basis, I don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
“During the last year you mainly heard that it was the older generation that got very sick - I never thought this would happen to me.”
Dr Campbell, who is the Clinical Lead at Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Critical Care Unit says they have seen an increase in younger people being admitted with the virus.
He said: “Artur is a young man, he’s fit and well and came into us with severe COVID.
“At one point there was a very high chance he could have been placed on a ventilator as his oxygen levels were so low. This was a very hard conversation to have with someone so fit and young knowing the high mortality rate in ventilated COVID patients.
“Unfortunately Artur chose not to get vaccinated and what has happened to him really does show the ramifications of not being vaccinated and the impact that can have on someone so young and fit.”
Artur has currently spent around two weeks in hospital and expects to be recovering for many weeks to come.
He said: “When I leave hospital I will consult with my GP the best time to take up the vaccine.
“This experience has shown me how dangerous this virus can be for people of any age.
“There will always be people out there that don’t want the vaccine but I think the benefits of getting it outweighs any small risk there may be.
“I hope by sharing my story it will make people who haven’t had the vaccine think differently, I certainly regret not having mine.”
Dr Campbell echoes Artur’s calls to encourage those who remain unvaccinated to get their jab as soon as possible.
“We are very lucky that we now have the vaccine available to us to try and prevent the most severe cases forming.
“You don’t know how you are going to react to COVID before it’s too late, my message to the public is please believe in the science and get your vaccine before it’s too late,” he added.