The independent London newspaper

Hospital colleagues in bid to help emergency nurse with cancer

Neri Pucci was initially suspected of having Covid-19

07 September, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Neri Pucci before he fell ill

A&E hospital workers are in shock after a young nurse suspected of having Covid-19 was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Neri Pucci, an emergency worker at the Royal Free hospital, had developed “virus symptoms” of feverish sweats, exhaustion and a sore throat.

The 28-year-old, from Highbury, was checked for coronavirus several times but his results kept coming back negative.

Further blood analysis found the cancer and he was admitted to the Hampstead hospital at the end of one of his shifts. An online fundraiser, set up by staff in the emergency unit, has raised more than £14,000.

Miguel Montenegro, a friend and colleague, said: “He came in one day and he said he was feeling unwell, he had to get a cab in to work. He was pale, short of breath and very tired – so the first thing they thought of was that it was Covid. They did some blood tests and then we realised how bad he was struggling. The whole department is in shock.”

Mr Pucci worked treating Covid-19 patients at the Royal Free

Mr Montenegro added: “His body is responding well but so he is not yet in remission. He’s waiting for a bone marrow transplant. He’s in good spirits – he’s a positive man and very optimistic.”

Mr Pucci, who has worked at the Free for the past five years, is now being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) at University College Hospital in Euston Road.

Born in Florence, he is a keen painter and fisherman. Mr Montenegro recalled how his friend was once featured in an Italian newspaper for catching a “massive sheatfish”.

He also loved to travel and last year had briefly taken a job as a nurse on a cruise ship when the pandemic hit.

He rushed back to help his colleagues at Royal Free, who were struggling to cope with the surge in patients. But because he left the hospital and was working as agency staff he cannot get sick pay.

According to his GoFundMe fundraising page, set up by Mr Montenegro, Mr Pucci “will likely need at least a year off work, depending on how soon he has the procedure”.

It adds: “The funds we raise will be used to support his accommodation’s costs and bills so that he can carry on focusing on his recovery and can remain in the country to obtain the best care possible. He is looking forward to getting better as soon as possible as he wishes to return to work promptly and continue providing people with the best care he is capable of.”

l To donate go to: www.gofundme.com/f/covid-fighter-needs-your-help

Share this story

Post a comment