Neil gets on his bike to thank doctors who helped him survive near-death experience

20 November 2017

Neil Dougherty and Ben Roff
Neil Dougherty (left) and Ben Roff 
Neil Dougherty will undertake a gruelling 60k challenge to support the medical team who saved his life.

The father of two was struck down so severely by a mystery illness that he suffered a heart attack and a stroke, his kidneys and lungs began to fail and he spent weeks in a coma.

Fighting for his life, it was touch and go whether he would win his brave battle against what was eventually diagnosed as vasculitis - a serious disorder of the body that destroys blood vessels.

Neil survived the harrowing three-month ordeal only thanks to the specialist care and attention that he received from the doctors and skilled professionals on the ECMO team from Leicester Glenfield Hospital.

Due to their fast response and highly skilled treatment, the 47-year-old is healthy enough to have returned to work in the customer care department of Bovis Homes' Northern Home Counties region.

He is planning to show his gratitude to the team from Glenfield who helped him pull through by taking part in a sponsored bike ride to the hospital from his home in Bedford.

"Thankfully, vasculitis is a relatively rare condition, but it seriously damages the heart, lungs, kidneys and immune system," he said.

"I'd be dead now if it weren't for the doctors and specialists from Glenfield who looked after me. I owe them my life, it's a simple as that.

"I'd not been feeling great for a while, but one day my wife Tracy came home and found me lying on the sofa looking and feeling absolutely awful.

"I went to hospital only to please her, really, but three months later I still hadn't come home!"

Neil and colleague Ben Roff, also a customer care technician at Bovis Homes, are preparing to cycle from Bedford to Glenfield on May 20 next year to mark the anniversary of Neil's return home.

Neil, who is still receiving medication for vasculitis, said he hoped to raise at least £5,000 for the team at Glenfield who saved him.

While the effects of the illness mean he isn't as strong as he used to be, Neil is determined that nothing will prevent him from completing the ride.

"When I came out of the coma in hospital I was using a tissue box as a dumbbell - that's how weak I was," he said.

"I couldn't even get a cup to my mouth, I had to be fed and I had to learn to walk again.

"But I'm slowly building my strength and fitness up and I'm sure I will finish the ride, especially with my family, friends and Bovis Homes colleagues urging me on."

For information on how to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/glenfield-cyclegroup