This is Kev's pancreatitis story, told by his wife, Nadine.
Friday 2nd July was like any other Friday. We did the food shop, ate our tea and put the kids to bed. We have three children. Our youngest, Elsie is two, Emilia is seven and Aidan is twenty. Kev and I settled down to watch Netflix, when Kev said he felt sick. He went into the bathroom to be sick a few times and then came the pain.
Kev’s pain started in the middle of his stomach and later radiated to his back. By 1:30am he was writhing around in agony, so I called an ambulance. My husband was grey, clammy and felt freezing cold.
At 5am, there was still no sign of the ambulance. I phoned a taxi and Kev staggered out of the front door and made his way to hospital. He messaged me when he arrived, and the doctor saw him straight away.
Within three hours, they knew exactly what was wrong and to what extent. Kev had severe acute necrotising pancreatitis and his pancreas was already 95% necrotised (dead). He also had sepsis. They immediately started treating him with antibiotics and IV fluids and the doctor allowed me to go and sit with him in A&E. They explained that there was no actual treatment for pancreatitis. It was just a ‘waiting game’ for the inflammation to calm down, so they could remove the dead tissue in a few weeks’ time. I remember thinking “they can’t do anything yet, but at least they have a plan!” Little did I know that this would be the start of the worst eight weeks of our lives.
The very next day Kev was admitted to ICU, as he was having trouble keeping his oxygen levels up. They were allowing visitors, so I nervously went to see him. I’d never had to experience ICU before, and seeing him wired up to machines and hearing everything bleeping was awful. He was being constantly sick with bile, so they had to put a tube up his nose to help drain it all. He was still in so much pain. Kev stayed in ICU for the next six days until he improved enough to be able to go onto the surgical ward.
Unfortunately, this was short lived and just eight days later he was back in ICU, as fluid had started to collect on his chest. Over the next few weeks, it was a constant battle to keep infection at bay while trying to drain all the fluid from his body. He had swollen up so much that he had gained over 10kg. After nearly five weeks, Kev was transferred to the regional pancreatic centre where the specialists were based. He was looking better at that point. He was eating and managing to walk around with the physio. He was so determined to beat it. I was in awe of his strength.
One week later, they performed the first surgery to place a stent, so they could use an endoscope to remove the dead tissue and fluid that had collected. Because the damage to his pancreas was so severe, his fluid collection was huge. We were warned that he would need this done 4 or 5 times, but Kev should be home within 2-3 weeks. The first two were successful, but over the weekend Kev developed sepsis again. His lungs were also struggling. They wanted to carry on with the next planned surgery, so decided to put him to sleep. Worst-case scenario would be that he would need to be placed on a ventilator overnight. Kev called me before his surgery. I didn’t know this would be the last time that I would ever hear his voice.
Kev was ventilated, but he began to deteriorate. A week later, I was told by the doctors that the ventilator couldn’t get enough oxygen into his blood as his lungs were too damaged. He could die at any moment.
This was when they decided to give him one last chance. Kev was transferred to another hospital under police escort and placed on a machine which oxygenates the blood outside of the body. We hoped this would be what he needed, but sadly the damage to his organs was just too much and he went into multi organ failure. On Sunday 29th of August at 2:30pm, Kev passed away peacefully while I lay with him, surrounded by family. He was only 44 years old.
Kev was the most amazing husband; he was my best friend and a fantastic daddy to our 3 children. His children were his world. Kev loved football and writing. He always had a smile on his face and time for everyone. We now have a gaping hole in our lives that will never be filled. Pancreatitis has destroyed our family.
We found out that the cause of his pancreatitis was “sludge” in his gallbladder. Like many people, we didn’t know much about pancreatitis, and this is where Guts UK were a massive help during his time in hospital. At his funeral we asked for donations to Guts UK instead of flowers and we’ve raised over £1,300 in Kev’s name so far."It’s vital that Guts UK raises enough money to carry on to continue helping families like ours at a time we needed it most. They must continue research into pancreatitis, to stop people like Kev and our family experiencing the heartache and trauma this horrific disease can cause." - Nadine, Kev's wife.
There is no effective treatment for pancreatitis. There is no cure.
Guts UK is the only UK charity funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis. We are dedicated to finding an effective treatment, a cure for this misunderstood and underfunded condition.
People are suffering, people are dying, all because of a lack of knowledge about our guts. Join our community and champion our cause by donating to our life-saving research today.