A British Airways pilot who spent a record 243 days in an American hospital with coronavirus before returning to the UK has died after mounting an extraordinary and brave battle with illness, MailOnline can reveal today.
Father-of-two Nicholas Synnott, who turned 60 in February, punched the air and hugged medical staff after being discharged from intensive care in the US and heading home to Betchworth, Surrey, shortly before Christmas.
But tragically Mr Synnott passed away last week - 15 months after he first contracted Covid-19 on a flight to Houston from Heathrow and was admitted to hospital in Texas in March last year.
The cause of death has not been revealed but it is likely to be due to complications caused by covid, which doctors said had ravaged every organ in his body.
Dr Bindu Akkanti, who cared for him in Houston, said his achievement in getting out of hospital last year was all the more remarkable because a comatose Mr Synnott suffered multi-organ failures that left doctors questioning if was 'even in there' before he rallied.
He is survived by his wife Nicola, 54, who spent every day by his bedside, and their two children Rebecca, a charity worker, and George, who is understood to be training to be a pilot like his father. They are fundraising for The Children's Trust in Mr Synnott's memory.
British Airways Director of Flight Operations, Captain Al Bridger, said: 'We are devastated by this incredibly sad news. Nick was a valued member of our pilot family and a friend to many at the airline. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time'.
Mr Synnott, a top British pilot and family man, spoke of his joy at leaving hospital in December and sent his best wishes to Derek Draper, the husband of Kate Garraway, saying he hoped that Mr Draper would also get to go home too after months in intensive care.
Derek was discharged in April - after 13 months in hospital - but still required round-the-clock care.
Nick's family have asked well-wishers to donate to the charity The Children's Trust, which supports young people with brain injuries and where his daughter works.
On a fundraising page in his memory it says: 'Nick was a much loved husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. He will be dearly missed by all that knew him.
'In lieu of flowers, please make a donation on Nick's behalf to The Children's Trust, where Rebecca (Nick's daughter) works for.
'Nick was very proud of the work Rebecca did for them, and would kindly ask you give them your support'.
The much-loved pilot had suffered respiratory failure, was treated with a ventilator and then a heart and lung machine after falling ill last year, his doctors said.
Mr Synnott, father of Rebecca, 24, and George, 21, from Surrey, became ill after a flight to Houston. His body was ravaged by the virus, and medics said his recovery was in part due to the devotion of his family.
He made an extraordinary fight back with his wife Nicola, 54, a school administrator spending every day at her husband's bedside until he left hospital nine months later.
After leaving UT Health and Memorial Hermann Hospital, Mr Synnott, punched the air and told ABC 30 News: 'My temperature was spiking over 100 degrees... then I went through sort of a dark phase where psychologically there were issues I had to come to terms with.'
He added: 'It was a tough journey but, we've got where we are.'
He said that he would have liked to see Houston again, especially the city's zoo, because he looked at every day from his hospital window.
Cardiologist Dr Biswajit Kar, who treated Mr Synnott, said: 'Every organ of his body was affected by Covid-19. But yet, because his health was so good as a pilot prior to the illness, he could sustain all this and survive something as serious as this.'
Critical care specialist Dr Bindu Akkanti said the devotion of his wife was crucial to his recovery. I think all of us on our team agreed that it was his wife,' she said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.