The family of a ‘big friendly giant’ nurse who died from Covid-19 have claimed he had not been given protective equipment and was trying to buy his own on eBay.
Father-of-two Andrew Ekene Nwankwo, 46, died on May 16 after spending five weeks on a ventilator at Boomfield Hospital in Essex where he worked as a locum nurse.
His family say he had no underlying health conditions and have paid tribute to the ‘very genial’ and ‘kind-hearted’ man who was ‘always willing to help people’.
Frustrated brother, Tochukwu Nwankwo, 45, said Andrew told him that the personal protective equipment was ‘not there’ and he had tried to buy his own on eBay.
Father-of-two Andrew Ekene Nwankwo, 46, died on May 16 after spending five weeks on a ventilator at Boomfield Hospital in Essex where he worked as a locum nurse. His brother Tochukwu, 45, says the nurse was not given PPE by the hospital, which Broomfield disputes
Andrew tried to buy PPE on eBay before he became symptomatic, his brother says. Pictured: Andrew with his wife Ifeyinwa Ezeoji-Nwankwo, 39 and their two daughters Kaima, eight, and Kamsi, four
However, a spokesperson for Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, Essex disputed the claims, and said there has ‘never been a lack of PPE’ at the hospital.
Tochukwu said: ‘He said to me the PPE is not there and he actually tried to procure some himself from eBay.
Tributes are paid to ‘fiercely proud’ nurse after he died from coronavirus with his A&E nurse wife by his side
A ‘fiercely proud’ nurse who died after contracting coronavirus had been working to keep his colleagues safe.
Joselito Habab, known as Jo, died at Whiston Hospital on Wednesday with his wife Michelle, an A and E nurse, by his side, a spokesman for Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said.
The father-of-one, originally from Manila in the Philippines, joined the trust almost 18 years ago.
He worked as a staff nurse in trauma and orthopaedics until 2011 when he became a clinical nurse educator and was awarded employee of the month, the hospital spokesman said.
A statement on the hospital’s website said: ‘Jo was recently promoted to orthopaedic trauma nurse co-ordinator but before becoming ill, Jo was back in a key clinical education and training role keeping others safe by doing PPE training and fit testing for face masks.
‘He was an exemplary nurse and role model and fiercely proud of being both a nurse and a member of the WHH Family.
‘He will be very sadly missed by all who knew and worked with him.’
A GoFundMe page set up in his memory described Mr Habab as a ‘true NHS hero’.
It said: ‘Jo was a fantastic colleague, always ready to help with a smile on his face.
‘He worked hard and never left a task unfinished.’
Mr Habab’s 16-year-old son Dylan and his wife joined staff at Warrington Hospital for a minute’s silence on Friday.
- To donate to the GoFundMe page go to www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-joe-habab-a-true-nhs-hero
‘At that early stage when there was no PPE, that’s when he caught this because he was being sent out there to treat patients without adequate protection.
‘Then when it came to the time when he needed help, the ambulance would not come at the time, even though he as a nurse explained his symptoms to them.
‘He was being sent to face the danger without being given the adequate protection, that’s the bottom line and he told me as much.
‘That’s what’s really annoying and I’m really angry about this whole thing.’
Andrew was born in the UK to Nigerian parents and spent his childhood in Nigeria before returning to Britain as a young adult and working for the NHS for more than ten years.
His brother said he first reported Covid-19 symptoms on April 4 and went into self-isolation but his condition worsened, and he was left gasping for breath.
Andrew, who lived in Chelmsford with his wife, Ifeyinwa Ezeoji-Nwankwo, 39, and their daughters Kaima, eight, and Kamsi, four, called NHS 111 on April 10 and was advised to call an ambulance.
But Tochukwu said that the ambulance told him he ‘wasn’t considered enough of a risk’ because he could still form full sentences.
He said Ifeyinwa, Andrew’s wife of ten years, drove him to hospital in the early hours of April 11 as his condition deteriorated further
Andrew was put on a ventilator later that day and he remained in the intensive care unit until his death.
Tochukwu said: ‘His colleagues who looked after him, they did a great job without a doubt.
‘It’s the circumstances surrounding this whole thing, I get really angry when it comes to that because I know that this could have easily been avoided.’
Andrew and Ifeyinwa should have celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary on April 18 but Andrew was in a medically-induced coma.
Tochukwu said: ‘We were told he was getting better. We thought ‘oh wow, how wonderful that this should happen on his wedding anniversary’.
‘But alas, he then got worse after that. He didn’t progress to get better as was expected.’
Broomfield Hospital say: ‘Our thoughts are with Andrew’s family at this very sad time. We have worked incredibly hard to ensure there have always been sufficient stocks of protective equipment for every member of staff who needs it’
Tochukwu described his brother as ‘very genial’, saying: ‘People referred to him as the big friendly giant.
‘He was quite big, about 6ft 1in with a bulky build, he was humble, very down to earth, kind-hearted, that’s why he went into this, always willing to help people.’
Broomfield Hospital said: ‘Our thoughts are with Andrew’s family at this very sad time.
‘There has never been a lack of PPE at Broomfield Hospital. The safety of all of our staff is our absolute priority.
‘We have worked incredibly hard to ensure there have always been sufficient stocks of protective equipment for every member of staff who needs it.’