Man gets Covid jab from ‘guardian angel’ doctor who saved his life 23 years ago

Alistair Mason, PA
·3 min read

A man who was diagnosed with a one-in-a-million disease more than 20 years ago received his Covid vaccine from the same “guardian angel” doctor who saved his life when he was younger.

Andy Barr, 44, was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome – an autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack the kidney and lungs – when he was 21, thanks to a doctor who by chance was doing a rotation at the Gloucester Royal hospital where he was being treated.

On Tuesday, Mr Barr – who has type one diabetes – turned up for his Covid jab to find it was to be administered by the same doctor who saved his life more than two decades ago.

Mr Barr, a PR specialist from Newent in Gloucestershire, told the PA news agency: “I looked at him and smiled and thought ‘I recognise you’.

“He said ‘I didn’t think it could be the very same Andy Barr. I saw your name this morning and it jumped out at me’.”

Mr Barr said he was “freaked out” and “a bit teary” at the coincidence.

“I was like ‘that is so spooky’,” he said.

“He’s actually retired now – he retired a year ago and he was brought back, I guess by the NHS, to help with this jabbing programme. It’s phenomenal isn’t it?”

The vaccination was the latest in a series of coincidences which have seen the two men’s paths cross.

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A few years ago, nearly 20 years after recovering from the illness, Mr Barr was readmitted to hospital when he once again had an issue with his lungs, which turned out to be pneumonia.

“There was a certain amount of panic that this Goodpasture syndrome had come back, so obviously they shine the Bat light for the most senior person, and it just happens to be this doctor again, this guy that saved me 20 years ago,” Mr Barr said.

He said he was a “blubbering wreck” when he saw the doctor for the first time in 20 years.

“That was amazing and he got me through this illness,” he added.

A year later, he received a CV “out of the blue” from a woman who wanted an internship at his PR firm, with the same surname as the doctor.

“In she comes and I just said ‘your dad doesn’t happen to be XYZ does he?’ She said ‘yeah’. I was like ‘oh my god’.

“She only wanted an internship, but I’d have hired her there and then.”

Andy Barr
Andy Barr was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome when he was 21 (Andy Barr)

When Mr Barr first became ill 23 years ago, medics struggled to work out what the problem was.

Mr Barr said that he would have died had the doctor, who he described as being “like my guardian angel”, not stepped in.

“I know this is very dramatic and – as I say, I’m not dramatic and not emotional – I’d be dead without him, I would be dead without the NHS,” he said.

“They do a phenomenal thing.”