Man dies ‘from long Covid’ three months after being cheered out of hospital

A man who was the last virus patient to be discharged from a hospital in July after spending 60 days in intensive care has died of ‘long covid’, his family have said. Roehl Ribaya, 47, was first admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital on May 29 and spent 48 days on a ventilator battling the virus. He was then cheered out of the hospital by nurses and doctors in July and later told how he’d been sure he was ‘going to die’ while on the ward. His family have now revealed he ‘never recovered’ from the virus. Mr Ribaya suffered a cardiac arrest on October 13 and slipped into a coma, dying two days later. His wife Stella Ricio-Ribaya, a nurse, said: ‘He was never the same. He was so breathless all the time. Please follow the government’s advice so we can stop this virus. He was taken too soon. We don’t want any more to die.’

A close friend of the family, Mark Delabajan, said Mr Ribaya’s casue of death was cardiac arrest, with post-covid pulmonary fibrosis listed as a secondary cause. Mark said: ‘It was long covid. His breathing was never the same and he couldn’t get up the stairs. He was rushed back into hospital a number of times.’ His family say he never recovered from the virus

Mr Ribaya was clapped by nurses and doctors as he left the ward. He described his friend as the ‘life and soul of the party’, who was ‘very funny and always joking around’. Doctors told how they had ‘survived the first way of this silent killer’ when Mr Ribaya was first discharged from their care. He was the last coronavirus patient on the ward. Dr Jason Cupitt said at the time: ‘I remember the first cases. The nurses had tears in their eyes because they knew nothing about this new disease – it was terrifying for them. ‘The staff were frightened. I liken it to sending young soldiers into battle, into the unknown, to fight an enemy they couldn’t see. I felt very responsible. But although you could see the fear, you could feel the determination of the staff.’ Hospital staff say they are saddened to hear of his death. He added: ‘One of the hardest things was having to talk to families over the phone who could not be with their loved ones. I have seen colleagues break down in tears with the heartbreak of dealing with separated loved ones and trying to explain what could happen. ‘There are patients I will certainly remember for the rest of my life as they were part of the most frightening and exciting time of my career.’ On Tuesday, Kevin McGee, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said their staff were devastated by Mr Ribaya’s death. Mr McGee said: ‘We were extremely saddened to hear about the death of Roehl and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.’