Former Blue Peter TV host Richard Bacon has thanked hospital staff for making sure his children still have a father.
The radio DJ and presenter of American news programmes visited Lewisham Hospital to personally express his gratitude for having his life saved after he was taken ill with a mystery infection in July.
He also vowed to fundraise for the cash-strapped trust, which has also brought in extra cash through its hit song A Bridge Over You, by the staff choir, which was the Christmas Number One in 2015.
Bacon, 42, pictured leaving the hospital with wife Rebecca, told hospital staff: “The work you do is outstanding. I look forward to seeing you all regularly. I want to do a bit of fundraising. I want carry on seeing you but what I really wanted to say was to thank you for making sure that my children still have a father – and thank you for being so good at your jobs.
“I was recently in this hospital, in a coma. I’m back.
“Walking back down the corridors here is definitely mixed emotions. Because I walk past certain rooms and think ‘That’s the waiting room where Rebecca my wife was half waiting to be told I had passed away.’
“Or ‘that’s the room where I was asleep and also people worked so hard to save me’.
“But my main feeling being back here is one of joy.”
Bacon was recently welcomed back into the fold of the longest-running children’s TV series in the world when it celebrated its 60th anniversary.
He added: “I was thinking on the way here – a couple of days ago I want back to a TV show I used to host, Blue Peter, which I got fired from – and they gave me back my Blue Peter badge. Blue Peter feels like part of an extended family.
“And suddenly walking in here I realised I had the same feeling as a couple of days ago – people here are starting to feel like members of my extended family.”
Bacon has said he was “quite close to death” for two days after being hit by the mystery lung infection on a transatlantic flight on 5 July.
The former Blue Peter presenter described being told he needed to be put in a medical coma as “the most shocking moment of my life”.
He told Radio 4’s Broadcasting House a doctor later said: “There were a few points where I thought you were probably going to die.”
Bacon said: “The first two nights went really badly – no one’s fault – the infection was winning and my lungs were losing.
“My blood oxygen level went down to 70 per cent, and when you go below 70 per cent basically you are looking at death or brain damage – but more likely death.
“I hit 70 per cent and for the first two nights, I have since found out, I came quite close to death.”
He was at his fittest ever at the time, because he had embraced a healthy lifestyle. But as a result he put off going to Lewisham Hospital until the day after the flight landed, despite having to be taken from the aircraft in a wheelchair.
Even then, he thought he would simply get drugs and perhaps be kept in overnight.
But a senior doctor told him: “It’s much worse than that. I’ve looked at your x-ray and it’s horrible.”
Bacon added: “The doctor said, ‘I need to put you into an induced coma so that we can control your breathing and if I don’t do that you are probably going to die’.”
He spent more than a week in an unconscious state, had 250 injections in two weeks, and was well enough to leave on 19 July.
Bacon told Broadcasting House he had had some moments of “feeling haunted” by the experience since coming out of his coma – and revealed that at the time, doctors were unable to diagnose the infection.