In a harrowing ordeal that began with symptoms mistaken for the flu, 24-year-old Devan Hopkins from Morecambe, Lancashire, endured a life-threatening battle with a severe blood infection and related complications. Initially feeling unwell in October 2022, Devan consulted a doctor, who attributed his symptoms to winter flu. Despite worsening conditions like severe headaches and exhaustion, he was initially prescribed migraine tablets after two further blood tests.
Devan’s health rapidly declined, marked by significant weight loss and intensifying headaches. Upon returning to the doctor, further tests revealed a heart murmur, leading to his urgent admission to Lancaster Royal Infirmary. An echocardiogram there diagnosed him with infective endocarditis, a serious infection resulting from bacteria entering the bloodstream. Additionally, Devan was found to have a bicuspid heart valve, a congenital condition where the aortic valve has two flaps instead of three.
Faced with these dire diagnoses, Devan was transferred to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for complex heart surgery, which aimed to replace his aortic valve, repair his mitral valve, and remove an abscess on his aorta. The surgery initially planned for six hours, was extended to 13 hours due to its complexity, told Mirror.
Complications escalated as Devan was found to have contracted strep, pneumonia, and sepsis, which critically affected his heart and lungs. Post-surgery, he was placed in an induced coma over Christmas, spending 10 days on life support. His family and ex-girlfriend stayed by his side, hoping for his recovery.
Devan’s ordeal was further compounded by his condition before the surgery. After a trip to Prague with his ex-girlfriend, he returned home looking gaunt and pale, raising serious concerns among his family. Despite the doctor’s efforts to control the infection with antibiotics before surgery, Devan’s condition necessitated immediate intervention.
Remarkably, Devan was taken off life support on December 27, 2022, and after an additional 14 days in the hospital, he was discharged in January 2023, celebrated as a “Christmas miracle” by hospital staff. His family credits the dedicated medical team, led by Mr. David Rose, a cardiothoracic consultant, for their exceptional care and commitment.
Devan’s extraordinary survival story is being highlighted by the British Heart Foundation in their ‘a gift that keeps on living’ campaign. The campaign emphasizes the importance of funding research into heart and circulatory diseases, showcasing how vital this work is not only for patients like Devan but also for their families and loved ones. Devan’s experience serves as a powerful reminder of the unpredictable nature of health and the critical role of timely medical intervention.
To donate to the British Heart Foundation this festive season and give a gift that keeps on living, visit bhf.org.uk/Christmas