‘Woke up on the ground’: Hawks coach Sam Mitchell comes clean on New York health nightmare

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Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has opened up on the health episode that turned his off-season trip on its head.

Mitchell was hospitalised in New York over Christmas last year with pneumonia, spending seven days in a New York hospital bed.

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While the Hawks coach has now fully recovered and is working full-time again, the 41-year-old told the Herald Sun of the nightmare that unfolded in New York.

“I was no good,” Mitchell recounted of what he initially thought was a cold that had worsened a few days into the trip.

“I was sitting with Lyndall and the three kids (at breakfast) and I said to Lyndall ‘I am not going to make it today, I am going to go back up to the room’.

“She was like ‘What do you mean you are not coming with us today? In my head I had been fighting it and fighting it.

“At that point, I got up as if I was going to go back to the room and I got three or four metres and I just woke up on the ground.”

Mitchell said he had collapsed at the family’s hotel diner with his eyes open for two minutes, with Lyndall insisting he be taken to NYU hospital for tests.

Despite being on the other side of the world, the Mitchell family was able to lean on West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson, with the good friend of Mitchell in town and making a quick dash to take the Mitchells’ kids for the day.

Mitchell was initially told by doctors he had Flu A, but that explanation fell by the wayside when Mitchell’s condition worsened the following day.

“The next morning I couldn’t get up … I couldn’t wake up,” Mitchell said. “She (Lyndall) calls an ambulance, they come and take me back and we go through the same process again,” he recalled.

“If I had been there by myself, could I have got to the phone and rang reception or 911 to get help? Probably … but not definitely.”

Such was the depth of Mitchell’s plight that several experts back home were called, including current Hawks board member Dr Anne-Marie Pellizzer and former board member Dr Andrew Kaye, a perioperative physician and neurosurgeon respectively.

Mitchell was eventually informed he had a “cocktail” of issues that had threatened multi-organ failure, including multiple types of influenza combined with bacterial pneumonia.

Mitchell was forced to spend Christmas Day in hospital as he recovered, before eventually being discharged on December 27.

It wasn’t the end of the drama, however, with his family’s possessions including their passports being stolen before ultimately being tracked down by police.

Originally published as ‘Woke up on the ground’: Hawks coach comes clean on New York health nightmare

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