Ringo Starr and wife Maureen discuss wedding in 1965
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Celebrating his 80th birthday back in July 2020, many fans reflected on Ringo’s life. In stark contrast to the life that he enjoys now, when the star was born in 1940 his family were suffering from poverty. Living in one of the poorest areas of Liverpool, Dingle, and a father who walked out on him and his mother, Ringo’s start to life was hard. Unfortunately for both Ringo and his mother Elsie, Ringo’s health rapidly deteriorated after he was rushed to hospital at the age of six with a ruptured appendix.
Reflecting on this worrying time in a biography of his life, it explained how he had missed most of a classroom education in order to have “risky” and potentially life-saving surgery.
Ringo’s biographer wrote: “The surgery, which is routine today, was much more complicated and risky in 1947.”
The condition became so severe for Ringo that he fell into a coma which lasted several days.
The NHS explains that appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix. The condition typically starts with pain in the middle of your tummy, but within hours the pain travels to the lower-right hand side where the appendix usually lies, becoming constant and severe.
Other symptoms that individuals may experience includes feeling sick, constipation or diarrhoea, with pain getting worse if the individual coughs or walks.
Although medical professionals are still unsure what causes the condition, the appendix will need to be removed straight away. Today the surgery is normally carried out as keyhole surgery, unless the appendix has burst or is difficult to access.
As Ringo’s appendix has ruptured, surgery was made more difficult and at the time surgeons reportedly told his mother there was a chance he might not make it through.
Again in his biography, it was written: “By morning, Richy had pulled through. It would not be an easy recovery. He was barely conscious at times and was nearly comatose for ten weeks. He was lucky to survive – and he knew it.”
After surgery the NHS recommends that individuals avoid any strenuous activity for up to six weeks, especially for those who have had open surgery.
Yet it is still important to keep an eye out for signs of problems after surgery. The NHS advises to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following after coming out of hospital:
- Increased pain and swelling
- Vomiting repeatedly
- A high temperature
- Discharge coming from the wound
- Noticing the wound is hot to touch.
Shockingly Ringo’s recovery took nearly a full year, being discharged from Liverpool’s Myrtle Street children’s hospital in 1948. But the star was instructed to still stay home due to his continued fragile health.
If his ordeal with appendicitis wasn’t bad enough, in 1953 Ringo contracted tuberculosis, after which he spent a whopping 11 months in hospital.
Talking to Esquire in March 2021 the star said: “I had tuberculosis (TB), which in those days meant you spent 11 months in hospital.”
TB is a bacterial infection that is spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.
The NHS explains that the condition mainly affects the lungs, but it has potential to affect any part of the body, making it a potentially serious condition.
Typical symptoms of TB include a persistent cough, weight loss, a high temperature, tiredness and fatigue, a loss of appetite and swellings in the neck.
Due to the severity of the condition, treatment is needed straight away. With the development of modern medicine, the condition is usually treated successfully with a course of antibiotics.
Only 13 at the time, Ringo ended up spending his 14th birthday on the ward, but managed to celebrate his 15th finally out of hospital care. However, spending nearly three whole years of his childhood in hospital has left its mark on the star.
He said: “I can’t even visit hospitals, I hate them. I remember one time [his wife] Barbara was having a procedure and she was in there getting better afterwards and I’m trying to wake her up—’Come on, let’s go, let’s go!’”
For Ringo, these fears also resurfaced when the world was struck by the Covid virus. Commenting on the “fear factor” of catching Covid, Ringo said: “I don’t dwell on it or live with that fear, but I suppose I’m like everyone else – we all think if we’re going to get [the virus], we’re going to get the death one. I know people, and family members who had it, and it’s a very small portion where it’s the end, but in my head, that’s where it goes.”
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