Coronavirus patient Ersu Ekrem tells the BBC about his near-death experience

Turkish Cypriot businessman Ersu ‘Eddie’ Ekrem, currently recovering in hospital from Covid-19, has featured on the BBC’s main evening news discussing his “terrible hallucinations” after being induced.

The short clip, broadcast on Tuesday 12 May, opens with Mr Ekrem being helped to sit up in bed by nurses in full personal protective equipment (PPE) at University College London Hospital.

The BBC reporter tells viewers that “Eddie is struggling with the impact of Covid-19 on mind as well as body,” explaining that, “He’s just emerged from intensive care after a month on a ventilator.”

With oxygen being piped through his nose, Mr Ekrem, recounts the frightening visions he had while battling the deadly respiratory disease:

“I’m 66 years old and I felt nearest to death than anything else with this coronavirus.”

“Hallucination wise, so many terrible things that you think are real, even when you wake up. You think they were real, that you lived through them,” he continued.

When the reporter asked him what sort of things he was imagining, Mr Ekrem, who owns a dry cleaning business on the Old Kent Road in southeast London, said:

“I’ve got a little bit of plot where my dad was buried, and I could see the grave ready there for me to go in there. He said ‘Come, come, you have to come in there. It’s ready for you’,” while making beckoning gestures with his hand.

The reporter noted that as well as “physical therapy’, Mr Ekrem will also need “psychological support.”

The interview with Mr Ekrem was part of a large piece charting the personal recovery stories of patients at UCL Hospital. As the reporter stated, simply surviving intensive care, where on average of one in two patients die from coronavirus, is not the end of their ordeal.

Mr Ekrem, who is chairman of the British Turkish Cypriot Association, called T-VINE editor and friend Ipek Ozerim earlier this week to tell her he was improving, but his “recovery was going to take a long time” as the virus had also “attacked his nervous system”, debilitating his movement, particularly in his legs.

He was first admitted into North Middlesex Hospital, near his home in North London, on Friday 27 March after having breathing difficulties. Initially Mr Ekrem was on oxygen, but as his health deteriorated, the decision was taken to induce him on 2 April. He was transferred to UCL where he remained in intensive care.

Now firmly on the mend, Mr Ekrem recently tested negative for coronavirus, showing he had beaten the killer infection, and can now focus on making a full recovery.

The popular and well liked activist has received hundreds of ‘get well soon’ messages from friends, relatives and community members in the UK and North Cyprus.

The father of two is hoping to go home soon.