Phil Smith spent 26 days in intensive care at Wythenshawe Hospital
A swine flu victim from Greater Manchester who was given hours to live is urging people to get the flu jab.
Before his illness, Phil Smith from Sale was a fit and active person but ended up in intensive care for almost four weeks over Christmas.
At one point, his partner Vicky Culshaw was told by doctors that he was unlikely to make it through the night.
Phil is now urging everyone, whether they're at risk or not, to see their GP about getting the swine flu vaccine.
When Phil Smith, was sent to Wythenshawe Hospital for a chest x-ray in early December, he wasn't too worried.
"I had a cough, nothing more," he said. "I didn't feel like I had anything seriously wrong.
A course of antibiotics had failed to make a difference, but the 49-year-old salesman who's known to his friends as Smudger, didn't think he was at risk.
"I remember giving Vicky the thumbs-up as they wheeled me off to x-ray," he recalled. "I honestly thought I'd be out in about an hour."
What followed was a Christmas that Phil and his family will never forget.
Phil was immediately admitted with pneumonia. Then, when his condition started to deteriorate, he was sent to the intensive care unit.
It was then that doctors revealed that he'd tested positive for the H1N1 swine flu virus.
Vicky was shocked that her fiancé - a fit, active and relatively young individual - had been hit so hard by the disease.
"He wasn't at risk," she said.
"Smudge played rugby for years and he runs and cycles a lot. He had no underlying health problems.
The doctors told me they didn't think he'd make it through the night. It was horrendous.
Vicky Culshaw, Phil's fiancée
"What I know now is that you don't have to be in a risk group. This year's swine flu affects anybody."
As Vicky balanced her time at Phil's bedside with looking after her two young children, she was given the worst possible news.
It was touch and go at times," she said. "Then one night, the doctors told me they didn't think he'd make it through the night.
"It was absolutely horrendous."
Eventually, on the Thursday before Christmas, Phil started to show signs of improvement and was taken off oxygen.
In total, he was in hospital for 31 days, four days on a ward and 26 days in intensive care - three weeks of that on life support.
Today, Phil is back home and full of praise for the doctors and nurses at Wythenshawe who treated him.
"I'm having trouble walking and my chest is very weak but I'm on the road to recovery now," he said.
"I'm a very, very lucky man," he added. "The intensive care team I had at Wythenshawe were amazing - they never gave up."
"If I could run the London marathon to raise money for the ICU, I would."
But he's also anxious that other people who have a chest infection should get themselves tested for swine flu.
"If anyone has had a cough and it's not shifting, then go and see your GP to get tested," he said.
"Or if you don't want this horrible disease, then pay the £10 or whatever it is to get the flu jab.
"For the cost of a night out, it's got to be worth it."
The number of deaths this winter from flu verified by the Health Protection Agency currently is 50, with 45 of these due to swine flu.
The majority were under 65: eight cases between 5-14, 33 cases aged between 15-64 and four cases aged 64 and above. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/ ... 357955.stm