Man’s organs fail after catching Avian flu on skiing holiday

An artist who contracted avian flu on a family holiday suffered multiple organ failure and was in a coma for two months.

Miles Negus-Fancey, 59, was then also diagnosed with leukaemia during his four-month hospital stay in 2016.

“Before, I was quite glib about saying ‘your life can change in a moment,'” said his wife Jackie, 58. Speaking to Cheshire Live, she continued: “I didn’t understand what that meant until it actually did. It was like a film.”

The Chester family travelled to Austria for a skiing holiday in 2016 when disaster struck. As Jackie explains: “Miles is a decorative artist, and he does lots of projects in high-end properties – he does marbling, gilding and all stuff like that – and I was doing lots of digital artwork for bars and hotels, and we were doing okay.

“Then we went on a skiing holiday, and Miles picked up avian flu when he was there. We were all ill and we came back on the Saturday. By the Monday, he was in intensive care with multi-organ failure.

“All his organs failed, and they said that he was going to die. And then they found out he had leukaemia, so it seemed like that was it.

“This carried on for about six weeks, on and off. I’d be called back in and they’d say ‘Right, he’s not going to last the night,’ and then he would survive.”

“Then, when he came home, both my parents who were living in the same village, they both became ill. My mum had a brain tumour, and my dad became ill, and then the next year they died.

“So it’s been a horrendous few years. Miles has had treatments with leukaemia and, at the moment, he’s in remission because he’s been on a trial drug at Christie’s, which is an amazing place. But he’s such a positive person.”

The couple’s art and design businesses collapsed, with Jackie taking time to care for Miles. With Miles now in remission, they have set up their own art business working with those who have been in intensive care and their families through the Critical Care Support Network, which Miles set up following his hospital treatment.

They produce home décor featuring their detailed illustrations, with many featuring vivid depictions of animals and plant life.

Wildlife is close to the couple’s hearts, with Miles also keeping bees and producing honey. The couple’s pieces can be found in museums, independent shops, galleries and botanical gardens.

Jackie continues: “It’s going really, really well and Miles has come a hell of a long way. It’s really, really exciting.”

Jackie said of Critical Care Support Network: “We were asked by one of the nurses in the intensive care ward if we would set up a support group for people who’ve been in the same situation. So Miles went on to set up the Critical Care Support Network.

“It basically helps people and the families of people who’ve been in intensive care to recover. We started doing face-to-face meetings in Chester, and then lockdown came, so we started doing it on Zoom, and that’s where we started getting people from all over the country who’s family were in intensive care with covid.”

Miles and Jackie’s work can be viewed at the 22 Bridge Street gallery in Chester.

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