A 99-year-old is believed to be the oldest person in the UK to recover from coronavirus and her family have jokingly put it down — to her love for marmalade sandwiches.
Great-grandmother Rita Reynolds fell ill last Wednesday (25/03) and, after she tested positive for the virus, the family were told to expect the worst as her condition deteriorated.
End of life drugs were ordered in and Rita was kept comfortable by the dedicated staff at her care home, Abbeyfield in Bramhall, Stockport.
But against all odds – and expectations – Rita fought back and started to pull through and get better.
Yesterday (02/04) district nurses said she had recovered and was well on the mend.
Rita’s proud grandson Henry Phillips joked that her incredible recovery was thanks to her diet of “marmalade sandwiches and biscuits” – her favourite thing to eat.
Former Women’s Air Force driver Rita, who survived The Blitz by hiding under the kitchen table reading a book, is now looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday in July.
That was it for her
Henry, 37, an accountant, said: “I was certain that was it for her.
“When you hear everything you hear about coronavirus, and a 99-year-old gets it – she’s 99 so obviously she’s frail – I didn’t think there was any way she would recover from it.
“But she seems to have done it.”
Joking, he added: “I don’t know how she got through it. I don’t think she has ever eaten a vegetable or fruit.
“She lives on marmalade sandwiches and biscuits, but she’s had a terrible diet her entire life. She’s always just eaten chocolates and biscuits.
“But she’s never smoked or really drank.
“At the home they always ask her what she wants to eat and joke that they don’t know why they ask her – every day she only ever wants marmalade sandwiches.
“Biscuits, cakes and marmalade sandwiches – that’s probably what got her through it.”
Rita, who was born in the Isle of Man, was married to late husband Ralph, a scientist, and they had three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
She was a driver during the war, and survived a bomb which landed outside her home in Liverpool, aged 21, when she hid under the table, after refusing to get in the air raid shelter because she wanted to read her book.
Vigilant care home staff originally called in the doctor after Rita struggled to breathe, and she didn’t feel like eating or getting out of bed.
Henry’s mum Cindy Phillips, who visited her own mother daily, maintained a bedside vigil and was told to expect the worst.
He added: “Rita had the coronavirus test and it came back as positive. She wasn’t doing very well.
“They got the end of life medication prescribed for her, although she didn’t ever take it.
“My mum, was being told that she had a few days left.
“Mum was devastated. She goes to see her every single day. My mum was worried about her dying and not being able to be with her at that time.”
But on Sunday, care home staff reported that she was miraculously improving – and able to eat something, and by Wednesday (1) reports were she was “going to recover”.
District nurses who visited her yesterday (02) said they believed she had ‘come out the other side’, Henry said.
He added: “They said they are no longer thinking about end of life and they think she has recovered from the virus.
“I don’t think they will re-test as I don’t suppose there is any point, but it looks like she has made a miracle recovery.
“The district nurses have come in and said as far as they are concerned, she has recovered from it. She’s up and eating and seems fine.”
Henry paid tribute to the staff at Abbeyfield in Bramhall who have continued to give his grandmother “incredible” care throughout her ordeal.