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Nicholas Synnott punched the air as he left hospital. Pic: U.T. Health

British pilot who spent 243 days at US hospital with coronavirus dies, months after returning home to his family

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British Airways pilot who spent a record 243 days in an American hospital with coronavirus before returning to the UK has died after mounting an extraordinary and brave battle with illness, MailOnline has revealed.

Father-of-two Nicholas Synnott, who turned 60 in February, punched the air and hugged medical staff after being discharged from intensive care in the US and heading home to Betchworth, Surrey, shortly before Christmas.

But tragically Mr. Synnott has passed away 15 months after he first contracted Covid-19 on a flight to Houston and was admitted to hospital in Texas in March last year.

He is survived by his wife Nicola, who spent every day by his bedside, and their two children Rebecca and George.

British Airways Director of Flight Operations, Captain Al Bridger, said: ‘We are devastated by this incredibly sad news. Nick was a valued member of our pilot family and a friend to many at the airline. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time’.

Mr. Synnott, a top pilot and family man, spoke of his joy at leaving hospital in December and sent his best wishes to Derek Draper, the husband of Kate Garraway, saying he hoped that Mr. Draper would also get to go home too after months in intensive care. Derek got home in April – after 13 months in hospital.

Mr Synnott was admitted to a Texas hospital in March, but left to return home to the UK in December. His wife Nicola, 54, (pictured together) a school administrator who spent every day at her husband's bedside, was praised for helping him recover last year and cared for him until he died

Mr. Synnott was admitted to a Texas hospital in March but left to return home to the UK in December. His wife Nicola, 54, (pictured together) a school administrator who spent every day at her husband’s bedside, was praised for helping him recover last year and cared for him until he died

Father-of-two Mr Synnott, 60, punched the air after being discharged and heading home to Betchworth, Surrey, shortly before Christmas

Father-of-two Mr. Synnott, 60, punched the air after being discharged and heading home to Betchworth, Surrey, shortly before Christmas

Mr Synnott was a much loved husband to Nicola and his children Rebecca and George (pictured)

Mr. Synnott was a much-loved husband to Nicola and his children Rebecca and George (pictured)

His family have asked well-wishers to donate to the charity The Children’s Trust, which supports young people with brain injuries and where Nick’s daughter works.

On a fundraising page in his memory it says:  Nick was a much loved husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. He will be dearly missed by all that knew him.

‘In lieu of flowers, please make a donation on Nick’s behalf to The Children’s Trust, where Rebecca (Nick’s daughter) works for.

‘Nick was very proud of the work Rebecca did for them, and would kindly ask you give them your support’.

The much-loved pilot had suffered respiratory failure, was treated with a ventilator and then a heart and lung machine after falling ill last year, his doctors said.

Mr Synnott, father of Rebecca, 24, and George, 21, from Surrey, became ill after a flight to Houston. His body was ravaged by the virus, and medics said his recovery was in part due to the devotion of his family.

He made an extraordinary fight back with his wife Nicola, 54, a school administrator spending every day at her husband’s bedside until he left  hospital nine months later.

After leaving UT Health and Memorial Hermann Hospital, Mr Synnott, punched the air and told ABC 30 News: ‘My temperature was spiking over 100 degrees… then I went through sort of a dark phase where psychologically there were issues I had to come to terms with.’

He added: ‘It was a tough journey but, we’ve got where we are.’

Doctors praised the dedication of his wife Nicky, who never left her husband's side

Doctors praised the dedication of his wife Nicky, who never left her husband’s side

Mr Synnott spoke out to wish luck to Derek Draper, the husband of Kate Garraway, saying he wished that he would also get out of hospital

He said that he would have liked to see Houston again, especially the city’s zoo because he looked at every day from his hospital window.

Cardiologist Dr. Biswajit Kar, who treated Mr. Synnott, said: ‘Every organ of his body was affected by Covid-19. But yet, because his health was so good as a pilot prior to the illness, he could sustain all this and survive something as serious as this.’

Critical care specialist Dr. Bindu Akkanti said the devotion of his wife was crucial to his recovery.  I think all of us on our team agreed that it was his wife,’ she said.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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