The UK’s longest Covid patient who has spent the past 14-and-a-half months in hospital has died after choosing to withdraw treatment.
Jason Kelk, 49, passed away peacefully yesterday surrounded by his family.
He was admitted to St James’ Hospital in Leeds on March 31 last year and remained there until Friday morning, when he was was transported to a nearby hospice.
His heartbroken wife Sue Kelk, 63, said Jason’s battle had become too much and that he could no longer ‘live like this anymore’.
Paying tribute to her ‘soulmate’ of 20 years, Sue said: ‘It was so peaceful. It was definitely important for him to do it on his terms.
‘But he is leaving an awful lot of people absolutely bereft.
‘People might not think he has been brave but my God, he has been brave. I really think he has.
‘And I just think that this is the bravest thing that you could ever do – to actually say “I don’t want to live like this anymore”‘.
Jason, who had type II diabetes and asthma, had been fighting for his life in intensive care since April 3 last year.
The virus ravaged his lungs and destroyed his kidneys. He also went on to develop such severe stomach issues that he was having to be fed intravenously before he died.
There was hope in March this year when he marked 15 days in a row without the use of a ventilator.
He was taken off a 24/7 kidney filter and was enjoying outdoor family visits in the hospital grounds once a week.
At the time he revealed his hopes of returning to his home in Leeds, saying he wanted to ‘sit on our sofa and eat take away fish and chips with Sue while we watch telly’.
However, he did add: ‘I’ve lost hope on a few occasions, mainly because even now the destination I’m working towards seems so far away.’
Jason’s recovery continued well to the point he was able to drink cups of tea and eat cake as well return to one of his passions – computer coding.
Sadly at the beginning of May he took a turn for the worse and ended up having to spend a few days on and off the ventilator before going on to develop two infections.
Sue said he ‘never really recovered’ from them.
He was left needing the ventilator full-time again three weeks ago and Sue said it was at that point he decided he had had enough.
She said: ‘He just wanted it all to come to an end.
‘The antibiotics had worked but his spirit had gone.’
Sue said that Jason was surrounded by her, his mum, dad and sister when he died yesterday morning.
He also leaves behind five stepchildren and eight grandchildren – two born this past year who he has never met – and another on the way.
Sue said she will most miss his sense of humour and him ‘just being there’.
She said: ‘[My daughter] Katie wrote a beautiful poem about him and said we were soulmates and that’s exactly what we were.
‘We finished each other’s sentences half the time. We just knew instinctively what the other one wanted. We just complemented each other.
“It certainly has been a very fun life with him. We have done some fun things – but we had lots of things that we were going to do.’