Teenager who has been in a coma for 11 months after being run over wakes up with no knowledge of the Covid pandemic – despite catching the virus twice

  • Joseph Flavill was studying for his A-Levels when he was hit by a car on March 1
  • Collision sent the 19-year-old into a coma, three weeks before lockdown began 
  • The Staffordshire teenager is now awake and responding by smiling and blinking
  • Despite catching Covid twice in hospital, he has no knowledge of the pandemic  

A teenager who has been in a coma for nearly a year has woken up with no memory of the Covid-19 pandemic – despite catching the virus twice.

Joseph Flavill, 19, was hit by a car while walking near his home in Tutbury, Staffordshire, on March 1 – three weeks before Britain’s first national lockdown began.

Since then he has spent nearly 11 months in a coma, but is on the road to recovery after waking up, as he manages to respond by blinking and smiling to loved ones.   

The teenager, known as Joe, was studying for his A-levels at The de Ferrers Academy in Burton, when he was involved in the accident last year.

He was rushed to Leicester General Hospital, where he spent six months in a coma, before he was moved to Adderley Green a neurological rehabilitation centre in Stoke-on-Trent four months ago. 

During that time he has caught Covid twice, one while he was still in the coma and again after waking, but on both occasions he has recovered.

Joseph Flavill, 19, was hit by a car while walking near his home in Tutbury, Staffordshire, on March 1 – three weeks before Britain’s first national lockdown began

Nearly a year after the accident, Joe has contracted Covid-19 twice and recovered, while also progressing well from his injuries. He is now able to open his eyes and move his limbs when told to do so

The teenager is progressing well after opening his eyes and in the last few weeks he has started moving limbs when he is told to do so.

He is engaging with family and friends through blinking and smiling. 

His aunt Sally Flavill-Smith said: ‘At first his eyes were open but he wasn’t responding to anything, but over the last few weeks he’s taken amazing steps.

‘He’s really trying to engage and blinks and smiles. He’s raising his limbs on instruction.

‘He’s making really good progress. We’ve got to try to remain positive. 

‘He’s definitely making improvement.’ 

Joe is now responding to his family over FaceTime by smiling and blinking. They’re still not sure how to explain that an entire pandemic has taken place since his accident 

Joe, an air cadet before his accident, is unable to see his family due to Covid restrictions, but his aunt says his face ‘lights up’ when sees relatives and friends on the screen

Due to coronavirus restrictions, Joe’s family are not able to visit him but they communicate through Facetime and his aunt said that his face lights up when he sees his friends and family on the screen. 

She said: ‘It’s the best we have seen him recently. It might seem like little progress but the fact he can give the nurse a high five is a really big step.

‘It’s unbelievably hard for his mum not being able to see him.

‘We also don’t know how much he understands as his accident was before the first lockdown and it’s almost like he has slept through the whole pandemic.

‘It’s hard as we know he is more alert, but how do you explain the pandemic to someone who has been in a coma?

‘A brain injury is very much the unknown, so we haven’t been given an idea of what to expect really.’

His mother was allowed to spend time with him at the home on his 19th birthday, but had to stay socially distanced.

She is also doing his laundry and will see him at the door when she drops it off, but is still missing being with her son through his recovery.

Before the accident, air cadet Joe was fit and healthy, enjoying hockey and other sports, as well as waiting to receive his coveted gold Duke of Edinburgh award.

There was no sport that he would not do, his family have said.

‘His aunt Sally Flavill-Smith said: ‘As we know he is more alert, but how do you explain the pandemic to someone who has been in a coma’

Friends have raised more than £20,000 on a fundraising page to help support Joe’s recovery, as he now resides in a rehabilitation centre in Stoke

His aunt has now said they want him to start on his physiotherapy again, which he was doing well at, but had to stop due to Covid.

Joe had wanted to take a year out after completing his A-levels to go travelling, so now his friends and family are doing something special for him.

Around 100 people are cycling, walking, running and rowing to travel the equivalent of an around-the-world trip at home.

Each day all the miles are added up to see how far they have got, with the team already having completed 8,000 miles in 20 days.

Videos are also shared on the Joe’s Journey Facebook page so the teenager can follow what his friends have been doing.

The family have set up a fundraising page, to help cover costs of any treatment he may need in the future.

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