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Colleagues set up fundraiser for nurse with cancer

Hospital workers rally for 28-year-old who was diagnosed after taking several tests for coronavirus

11 September, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Neri Pucci, who lives in Highbury, wearing personal protective equipment at the Royal Free hospital

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

Neri Pucci, 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 Royal Free hospital in Hampstead 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 is being treated at University College Hospital in Euston Road

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. 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 the Royal Free, 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.”

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