A TAXI driver who “died” for two and a half minutes after contracting coronavirus has expressed his gratitude for the NHS staff who saved him.

Paul Ramsden, who lives in Norton, was rushed to hospital in April after suffering breathing difficulties.

The 55-year-old said: “I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had been told to sign off work for 12 weeks.

“One night I was having problems breathing and said to my wife Linda to get an ambulance quickly.

“I was really short of breath and my breathing became more erratic. By the time they got me in the ambulance they had the blues and twos on and I was rushed through to York Hospital.

“I remember getting to A&E and having a swab test and after that is all blank and I went into a coma.”

Paul said that for the first couple of days his wife had been told to prepare for the worst.

“I’m a stubborn thing though and I fought and fought to get back,” he said.

“When I was in the coma they were trying unsuccessfully to wake me up. In the end they phoned Linda and put the phone to my ear and apparently when I heard her voice I opened my eyes.”

Paul had been in a coma for 36 days and was later told he had effectively died for two and a half minutes after his heart stopped shortly after he was admitted to hospital.

After coming out of the coma, Paul spent two weeks in ICU and was finally discharged on June 12, just over two months since he was admitted.

“The doctors said I was over the worst but now my recovery really started to get under way.

“The staff gave me a standing ovation and clapped as I left the ward which was amazing.

“I now have an oxygen tube which I have to put on when I get short of breath and I get very light-headed and go into a tremor.

“As well as my breathing, coronaviurs has affected my heart and kidneys and I have to go for a scan next month.

“I also have a frame to help me walk and over the past few days I have managed to get out for a short walk, but I have to keep stopping to sit down.”

Paul has also lost four stone in weight and has been told it will be at least 18 months before he makes a full recovery.

“I am lucky to be here and I am determined to fight back to normal,” he added.

“I cannot thank all the staff who have looked after me enough. They have been absolutely amazing.

“As soon as I am well enough I want to go back and thank everyone who had helped look after me. Without them I would not be here today.

“I have also had so much support and good wishes from people who know me which has really helped.”

Paul, who works at Station Taxis in Malton, had started a fundraising drive for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA), shortly before he fell ill.

“I was a volunteer with St John’s Ambulance for 20 years and have always admired the YAA for the job they do so wanted to give something back,” he said.

“Fortunately my boss Lisa Risdale and her mum Yvonne Brannon stepped in and have been fantastic in organising the raffle I had started.”

Prices include a television, family passes and vouchers.

Paul said: “I started doing this before I fell poorly so I am grateful to be able to help finish it.

“I will be going to the draw, I just hope they have got me a chair for when I need to sit down.”

The raffle will be drawn tomorrow (Thursday). Anyone who would like a ticket should contact Malton Station Taxis on Facebook.