Near death experience inspires Johnny to raise funds for the team who saved his life


Katrina Chilver

A man who owes his life to the work of staff at Glenfield Hospital is raising money for their charity to show his gratitude.

Johnny Normal, 47 of Stratford-on-Avon, was diagnosed with Influenza A in March by doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and suffered bocovirus, pneumonia in both lungs, liver failure and kidney failure.

He said: “It went really downhill very quickly, they did all that they could at the hospital in Birmingham but they said they couldn’t do anything for me apart from possibly a very risky procedure.”

Mr Normal was assessed by a team from Leicester before being transferred to Glenfield to receive Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) treatment.

Mr Normal added: “They had to make a decision whether it was worth it, it was my only hope of survival, and if they didn’t make that trip then I would not be here today.”

The survival rate of patients undergoing ECMO treatment is between 30 and 50% and Mr Normal’s wife and two daughters aged 10 and 15 were told his chances of survival were slim.

Mr Normal said: “It was absolutely heartbreaking for my wife and children, the doctors told them twice that I was not going to make it and they said their goodbyes to me.

“When I came out of my coma, I saw the beds around me constantly emptying, it was scary to see.

“It’s a very specialist treatment, I’m forever indebted to Dr Richard Porter and his team for saving my life.”

Mr Normal had to learn to walk again after his treatment and only has a lung capacity of 50% but he is now slowly recovering.

He is now devoting a lot of his time to raising money and awareness of ECMO treatment and the Leicester Hospitals Charity.

He said: “I want people who have family or friends going through this to have hope and see that you can come out of it and you can survive.

“I have first-hand experience of the work they do, when you think of intensive care you think of what you see on television but I saw what it is really like.

“I had eight or ten doctors around me 24/7, it’s a level of treatment I had never even thought of, the quality of care, their sense of humour and ability to keep optimistic was astounding.”

Mr Normal, who worked as a music promoter and event organiser before his illness, has decided to start by raising £5000 – the approximate cost per day to care for a patient undergoing ECMO treatment.

To donate to the Leicester Hospitals Charity and help Johnny reach his goal, visit

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