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Jan 21st, 2023

Gary's Story - Winchester ICU

For a few weeks I was feeling under the weather and on 3 occasions was kept in overnight in hospital for observations but was eventually discharged.

On the 10th of June 2017 I was admitted again, this time I was kept in. On Friday night I was in considerable pain, so they decided to operate.

I had a hernia, which had wrapped around my bowel. When the surgeons opened me up, they found I had developed Peritonitis as well – after which Sepsis set in.

Once te operation was completed, I was placed into ICU where unfortunately I suffered multiple organ failure (liver, kidneys, lungs etc). The team of surgeons decided to place me in self-induced coma which I was placed in for 3 months. During this time, I worsened enough for them to contact my girlfriend and basically come in to say her final goodbyes to me.

Miraculously, I managed to pull through. I was woken after 3 months and very gradually weaned off all the life-saving machines (dialysis machine, ventilators etc) and began a very slow but steady regime to get me back to normal – which is still in progress.

Because I was in a coma for 3 months, and the subsequent months after waking up my memories of my stay in ICU are still very very sketchy, the nurses and my family kept diaries of my progress, which I have now read – it was very emotional reading these comments from people who had cared so much for me, but I didn’t really recognise.

After 5 months in ICU I was eventually well enough to be transferred to a general ward (Kemp Welch) where I was visited by a specialist bowel surgeon based at Southampton General Hospital who agreed that the best thing would be for me to be transferred to his unit for assessment.

I was transferred from Winchester Hospital to Southampton Hospital in November 2017 and subsequently after more care, tests and physio (which included my girlfriend being trained to change and manage my fistula wound from home) I was discharged from Hospital on 23rd December 2017. I was seriously overweight when I was admitted into hospital, but when I was discharged, I had lost a combined weight of just under 12 stone but am feeling very healthy, and the team of doctors are happy with my overall health. Due to the weakened condition of my Kidneys from organ failure I am currently receiving 2 litres of IV fluid every day over a 15-hour cycle which again my girlfriend has been trained to do at home. I have to have regular blood/urine tests which used to be weekly, but are now monthly, and I am in constant contact with the bowel team at Southampton, as well as my local GP and my nearby pharmacy. Physio is going well, and I am definitely getting stronger and feeling more confident in all aspects of life.

In total I had 5 operations, and due to the coma, suffered major muscle wastage in my legs which required (and still requires) physiotherapy. I have a fistula still – basically my bowel is exposed and is sticking out of my stomach but is protected by a stoma bag and waste pipe. Due to my ongoing recuperation process I have to get physically stronger so that the bowel surgeon is confident enough for me to undergo the final operation to repair my bowel and get me back to normal. I am hoping this will be sometime towards the end of 2018.

I have been fortunate enough to go back to ICU to meet and personally thank the team for what they did for me. I left ICU confined to a bed in November 2017 but managed to go back in April 2018 and walk onto the ICU ward unaided on my own 2 feet.


I am under absolutely no illusions that if it was not for ALL the teams’ help, care, patience, understanding and encouragement, I would DEFINITELY not be currently typing out my story. When I say I owe them my life I seriously mean it. They will be forever in my debt.

This story really is not about me, it really is to do with the staff at Winchester Hospital (and to a certain extent, Ward F11 at Southampton Hospital), but particularly the Winchester ICU team, who kept me alive and never gave up on me. My girlfriend and my uncle, who worked very closely with the ICU team, nominated them for a WOW award, which they won. I was really pleased for them, but trust me, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much I owe them.

PLEASE help and support these people as much as you possibly can – I am here now, to tell my tale, but without these peoples’ love, help and support I wouldn’t be. I am under absolutely no illusion that if it wasn’t for the NHS, and these people in particular, I would not be telling you my story.

Gary Barton, Winchester

If anyone reading this has any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me on my email address which is:

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.