‘Support helped us to cope with brain injury’

Kevin Pratt and his wife Lorraine
Kevin Pratt and his wife Lorraine

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A COUPLE whose lives were affected by a brain injury have spoken out to raise awareness of the support and help available.

Former patient Kevin Pratt, his wife Lorraine, and their two children, have told of the help they received as part of Brain Injury Awareness Week, which runs until tomorrow.

In 2003, 43-year-old Kevin was diagnosed with viral encephalitis – an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus, which can be fatal.

It is believed that Kevin, now 56, from Milton, was more susceptible to the rare virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant to treat leukaemia, which weakened his immune system.

They were helped by the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust Brain Injury Outreach Team. Lorraine, 51, said: ‘I asked the nurse how bad things were on a scale of one to 10 – I was told that it was a 10. We knew that he might not make it.’

Kevin spent 11 months being treated at four different hospitals: Queen Alexandra, Southampton General, Haslar, and St James’.

Lorraine said: ‘Those months were hell on earth.

‘The children were 13 and 14. We were living hour by hour, never mind day by day.’

Kevin survived and returned home to his loving family, where Lorraine is now his full-time carer although the injury left lasting effects.

The couple were supported throughout their journey by charity Headway Portsmouth.

Deborah Robinson, 60, from Headway said: ‘When it comes to brain injury there’s a long road to recovery.

‘We run various activities and, despite his speech problems, Kevin has been participating much more and is really upbeat.’

Kevin was readmitted to hospital for two weeks last year after discontinuing medication which, unknown to him, was keeping the viral encephalitis at bay.

Fortunately, he fought off the virus again.

Lorraine said: ‘He is a one-off – he survived a transplant and then two bouts of viral encephalitis.

‘He is determined, and so am I. I’m very proud of how we’ve coped and how strong our relationship is.

‘This life is not what we would have chosen, but I could never choose a life without Kevin.’