One of the UK’s longest Covid-19 inpatients who spent more than 14 months in hospital with the virus has died because "he could not live like this anymore".
Jason Kelk, 49, was admitted to St James’ Hospital in Leeds, West Yorkshire, on 31 March last year.
He remained there until Friday morning when he was transported to a nearby hospice, where he spent his final hours surrounded by his family.
Wife Sue Kelk, 63, said Jason's battle had become too much and he had come to the decision to withdraw all treatment.
Paying tribute to her "soulmate" of 20 years, she 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.
“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’.”
Kelk, who had type II diabetes and asthma, was admitted to hospital on 31 March 2020 and three days later was transferred to intensive care.
He went on to develop such severe stomach issues that he was having to be fed intravenously when he died, and several times found himself fighting for life as his lungs and kidneys failed.
In March this year Kelk 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 added: “I’ve lost hope on a few occasions, mainly because even now the destination I’m working towards seems so far away.”
Kelk'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.
However at the beginning of May his condition declined and he spent several days on a ventilator before going on to develop two infections.
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His wife said he “never really recovered” from them. He was left needing the ventilator full-time again three weeks ago and 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."
She added: “I think really Jason from February 2020 disappeared. That’s the Jason we knew. But the Jason everybody loved was still very much there.
“I think I have been preparing for myself since the beginning. Not that I haven’t believed he could do it.
“In the last few weeks before his relapse I was just beginning to go ‘maybe I can hope now’ and then I got kicked in the teeth.”
Kelk said that her husband was surrounded by his family when he died.
He leaves five stepchildren and eight grandchildren - two born this past year who he has never met - and another on the way.
His wife said she will most miss his sense of humour and him “just being there”, adding; “[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.”
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