A Leamington dad has made an emotional thank you to a nurse who helped save his family from poisoning after alerting them to a lethal carbon monoxide leak.
Peter Selby has praised Sarah Treadwell-Whitlock, a Stop Smoking nurse who he met after deciding to kick the habit following the birth of his now two-year-old son, Gabriel.
The horror of what could have happened terrifies me. What’s worse is if I had woken up one morning and Holly and Gabriel hadn’t. I just cannot image it.Peter Selby
He said it was only signing up for the free quitting scheme at the Croft Medical Surgery which led to the discovery of a lethal carbon monoxide leak in his kitchen which had been silently poisoning his girlfriend, Holly and their baby son.
Last summer Holly collapsed and was sent home from her job at Warwick Hospital, but the problem was diagnosed by her GP as an ear infection.
And the then one-year-old Gabriel had been sleeping constantly, showing signs of sickness when awake.
What 40-year-old Peter did not know was that the pair were at home surrounded by the deadly gases all day long while he was out at work.
It was only when he went for an appointment at the clinic that the deadly threat was discovered.
As part of the free county-wide scheme, patients are given regular tests for carbon monoxide -a poisonous gas which gets into the bloodstream and prevents cells from absorbing oxygen.
Too much is lethal and the tests were due to show the levels in his blood dropping the longer he went without a smoke,
But instead of a drop, Peter’s second check up showed the amount carbon monoxide in his body had soared despite his insistence that he had only given in to temptation on one night out week before.
“I protested my innocence, but obviously most people wouldn’t believe that,” he said. “It’s the standard line from anyone supposed to be giving something up.
“The nurse, Sarah tested the machine on the receptionist to check it was working, and was very worried by the results and my reaction.
“She told me to go and have my appliances tested straight away which of course I did immediately.
“There was no reason to believe me, but for her to see that I wasn’t lying and to go out of her way to make sure the problem was addressed saved my life, and the lives of my family.
“She didn’t pull me from an avalanche or a burning building, but if she had just humoured me and assumed I was still smoking then I would not have returned for my next appointment. In my mind it is as simple as that.”
Peter, who restores furniture at a workshop in Hatton, said after immediately calling out National Grid, a faulty cooker was found to be leaking “an astronomical amount” of the deadly carbon monoxide into his small kitchen and around his home.
The family was given the all clear at hospital hours later and the cooker was removed.
But as he did not suffer any effects himself due to being out of the house for longer hours and an ex-smoker, Peter had been completely unaware the deadly problem was coming from the house all along.
“Looking back, all the symptoms were there,” he said. “But in isolation the incidents were not related. Gabriel was sleepy all the time and not his usual self, we gave him medicine and made sure he was hydrated and not burning up, and Holly’s collapse was assumed to be something else.
“Carbon monoxide does not have a smell and as an ex-smoker I would have been used to any feelings of light headedness or sickness.
“The horror of what could have happened terrifies me. What’s worse is if I had woken up one morning and Holly and Gabriel hadn’t. I just cannot image it.
“We cannot thank Sarah enough, I owe her everything and there doesn’t seem to be words to express that so we just want to shout from the rooftops how amazing she is to have had the tenacity to make sure this was not overlooked.”
Peter, who now has a carbon monoxide detector fitted in his home, featured in Warwickshire County Council’s eX-Smoker Factor competition and his story won his family tickets to Hatton County World.