Royal Hallamshire Hospital: Hero Sheffield nurse helped stroke victim out of coma by playing music

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Graham, who nearly died from a stroke during the Covid pandemic, says Joan Pons Laplana was like a brother to him

A Sheffield nurse who helped a stroke victim out of his coma by playing music to him is in the running for a national award.

Joan Pons Laplana (left) with stroke victim Graham Rodgers, whom he cared for at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital during the Covid Pandemic. Graham has nominated Joan for a national nursing awardJoan Pons Laplana (left) with stroke victim Graham Rodgers, whom he cared for at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital during the Covid Pandemic. Graham has nominated Joan for a national nursing award
Joan Pons Laplana (left) with stroke victim Graham Rodgers, whom he cared for at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital during the Covid Pandemic. Graham has nominated Joan for a national nursing award | Joan Pons Laplana

Joan Pons Laplana, better known as Jo, returned to frontline nursing to work in the intensive care units at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital during the Covid pandemic.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He found the experience so harrowing he was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) but one of the many patients he cared for during that hugely challenging time has now spoken of the difference he made.

Joan, who now works as a project choice area manager for NHS England is a finalist in the Patient's Choice Award category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2023, after being nominated by Graham Rodgers.

Graham, who nearly died of a stroke after getting Covid-19, said: "I spent 11 weeks in the Hallamshire Hospital ITU, then weeks on the stroke ward. I owe my life to the many consultants, doctors, dedicated nurses and all who work at our amazing hospitals. But Jo deserves a special nomination.

'Jo assured him that he would be my brother in his place and take good care of me'

"As I could not have any visitors, my brother Alan called ITU three times a day to see how I was. Jo assured him that he would be my brother in his place and take good care of me.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Jo spent lots of time talking to me while I was in my coma. Alan mentioned that I was a musician and used to live in Nashville writing songs. Jo played them on a small speaker by my bedside. He noticed my heart rate increased when my music was played - that I was in there somewhere.

"I remember hearing some music at the end of a long dark corridor. The music got louder and I heard women talking about the songs and realised that the songs were mine. That is when, to the delight of everyone, I finally woke up!

"Jo came to see me straight away but I didn’t recognise him or remember his chats with me. I was transferred to the stroke ward and wondered about the 'Spanish Jo' who'd been such a part of my adventure."

Graham told how he finally got in contact with Jo, who attended his comeback concert in December 2022.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

'The world is a much better place for having Jo in it!'

"I had to learn guitar all over again to do this but Jo knew how much it meant to me. He was with me all the way helping, organising and getting me to TV studios and radio stations. I found out that Jo has been diagnosed with PTSD from working as an ITU nurse during the pandemic and had to leave his role.

"He is still working for the NHS and he spends a lot of his time fundraising for NHS charities by writing and self-publishing a book on his experiences as a nurse and selling it online. Jo also runs marathons, raising funds for Chesterfield Ashgate Hospice. He is an amazing person.

"We met in terrible circumstances but are now in regular contact and he remains interested in my welfare and ongoing recovery. He never stops giving me encouragement. The world is a much better place for having Jo in it!"

Joan, a 48-year-old father-of-three, who was previously named Britain's nurse of the year, said: "I feel over the moon to be nominated for this most prestigious award. As a nurse you want to make a difference and the fact that one of your patients decided to take time to tell his story and how I made a difference to them is incredible."

The winner of the Patient's Choice Award will be decided by a public vote. People have untl midnight on Friday, October 20 to cast their vote at: secure.rcni.com/nurse-awards/patients-choice.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.