A British explorer whose latest book warned of the dangers of a pandemic has told how he recovered from coronavirus after a 49-day battle that left him at death's door.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison, 83, was in an induced coma for more than a month before his recovery began when he was moved to a garden space in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon.
His latest book, Taming the Four Horsemen: Radical solutions to defeat Pandemics, War, Famine and the Death of the planet, was published on the day he first fell ill in March.
In interviews on Tuesday, he talked of the role of nature in his recovery and, pointing out he has lived in remote tribal societies, said he believes “we are poisoning ourselves without understanding how”.
Mr Hanbury-Tenison, who had no underlying conditions and was returning from a skiing holiday when he fell ill, said the coronavirus was “nasty” and “unpleasant”.
He was the first person in the England’s South West region to be admitted to hospital.
“I was in a pretty bad way, in an induced coma for five weeks and didn’t know what was going on. It’s a nasty business, very unpleasant. You are sedated and delirious,' he said.
“The remarkable thing is they kept me in this condition all this time. The big breakthrough moment was when they wheeled me down into this wonderful new thing which is an intensive care garden where you are in the open air with flowers.
“It sounds silly but it’s really extraordinary.
“The moment came for me though, I had all these tubes and four people pushing this big bed and with the sun on my face, and suddenly I came out of it.”
Reserch 'is needed'
Mr Hanbury-Tenison, a co-founder of Survival International, said that his experience with coronavirus has supported the thoughts laid out in his book.
He said the key was research, and lots of it.
“This is a very complicated story and people don’t understand how all these viruses work.
“We need much more research, we don’t understand how these things happen and the overlap between being in an induced coma and being brought out of it, that is little understood.”
The National has contacted Derriford Hospital to explain more about how the garden is being used to help coronavirus patients.