Nurse who helped battle COVID-19 now needs your help

The 28-year-old A&E nurse returned from a career break to help support colleagues.

Matt Bodell
29 August 2020

The frontline nurse has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

A frontline nurse who cared for COVID-19 patients at the peak of the pandemic has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.


Neri Pucci, a 28-year-old A&E nurse who is originally from Italy, has worked at The Royal Free Hospital in the Emergency Department since 2014.

On a planned career break at the start of the pandemic, he quickly returned to the frontlines as a bank worker to help his colleagues battle COVID-19.

“I knew my colleagues were struggling during the pandemic and I felt I should come back and help,” he told the i Newspaper. 

Only six weeks after returning Neri became unwell, complaining of a fever, cough, sore throat, breathlessness and a headache – symptoms similar to COVID-19.



“Wearing full PPE for a 12-hour shift is quite exhausting, it makes you hot and sweaty. I had seen patients who had COVID, and of course took all precautions. So when I got ill I thought it must be the virus. I felt dizzy, short of breath and my heart was racing and then my knees went purple.”

Neri was quickly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells and requires urgent treatment.

Not on a substantive NHS contract at the time of his diagnosis, this left him ineligible for sick pay and thousands of miles away from family.

This led colleagues to set up a GoFundMe appeal to help support him during his treatment – which will include chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.


Described as a kind and hardworking nurse, his friends and colleagues are now asking people to donate and help promote the appeal that aims to cover Neri’s accommodation costs while he requires treatment.

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