Heartbreak as son recovers from Covid-19 fight to be told his mother has died

A wife has told how she almost lost her husband of 39 years to Covid-19 two days after her mother-in-law died from the same virus.

James Scott and his wife Sandra
James Scott and his wife Sandra

Sandra Scott, 57, and her husband, James, from Oban, have spoken out about their family’s experience in the hope that it will demonstrate the need to stay safe and continue lockdown rules.

Mr Scott, 63, was taken to Lorn and Islands Hospital, Oban, in the same ambulance that had transported his 84-year-old mother, Jessie, there two hours earlier, after his wife noticed a change in his skin colour.

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Mrs Scott said: “I took one look at his skin and it was all mottled, so I phoned 999 and the same ambulance crew came for him.”

Seventeen days later, when Jessie Scott – a previously fit and active volunteer charity worker – died, her son, who by then had been transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, was critically ill and unaware of her death.

Mrs Scott then went through the trauma of her mother-in-law’s funeral, without her husband beside her.

She said: “James was put in an induced coma in Oban, it took five hours to tube him up so that when he got to Glasgow he was ready, it was absolutely horrendous. Me and my son and daughter wanted to be with their dad, but we couldn’t be there.

“Thirty-eight days he was in hospital, the doctors said he was lucky to get out of it alive. He was critical, he was at death’s door twice. To be quite honest, how he got through it, I don’t know.”

She added: “I was phoning the hospital in Oban about Jessie, then I was phoning the hospital in Glasgow about James, then the doctor was phoning me and every morning James’s brother, Adrian, who lives in Australia was phoning to see how his mother and brother were.”

Mr Scott’s mother – who has two grandchildren, James Junior and Lee-Ann, and four great grandchildren, Charlie, Savannah, Ryan and Rachel – died on 8 April and was buried on 20 April, but her son was so ill he did not learn the news of her death until two days after her funeral.

Mrs Scott said: “Jessie passed away on 8 April and we thought James was away on the 10th. We buried Jessie on the 20th and he phoned me from hospital on 22 April and said: “How is mum?” I said: “I am sorry darling, she passed away.”

Speaking about the anguish the family faced at the funeral, she said: “I had to walk in with the undertaker and we all stood at the graveside, there were only eight of us there.”

“It’s been a long, hard haul for us all and unfortunately we didn’t get Jessie back, but I do think she was willing her son on.”

Mr Scott, who works as a project manager at Glensanda Quarry, got home on Friday, after 38 days in hospital, his life – and that of his wife and family – changed forever by what they have been through.

With her husband now well on the road to recovery, Mrs Scott added: “We have been very, very, lucky with James, because there are a lot of families being completely wiped out by this and I do wish all families in the same position at this time the best of luck.”

She said that, although some people still wrongly believed that Covid-19 was not a problem in the Oban area she understood that two other local people had also died after contracting the virus.

She said: “My mother-in-law passed away, she was a fit, fit woman with no underlying illnesses. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, please get the message out to people to stay safe. It’s too early to lift the lockdown rules.”

Echoing his wife’s plea, Mr Scott said: “It’s important to get it out there about how dangerous it is. I am 63, I am fit and I have hardly missed a day’s work in all my life, I wasn’t an ill guy.

“When I was told that I nearly died, I thought, how did I get this so bad? If I can get it, anybody can.

“The staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital said I was very lucky, they saved my life. They said to me, there is nobody that has come out of this hospital that has been on this [ventilator] machine for so long.”

He added: “Sandra is my rock, she had the good sense to make the phone call for an ambulance because she could see I wasn’t well. If she hadn’t phoned when she did I don’t know what would have happened. I think she saved my life as well.”

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