Great Britain

Bradford doctors struck down with coronavirus share their stories

TWO Bradford doctors have spoken of their experience after contracting Covid-19 and becoming patients in their own hospital. 

Consultant geriatrician Professor Alex Brown and orthopaedic registrar Ken Linton came to medicine after careers in the military and banking and now work at the Bradford Royal Infirmary.

They've shared their story with colleague Professor John Wright, an epidemiologist and director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, who has been writing a diary for the BBC from the early days of lockdown. 

In his latest entry, he said: "Alex served as an army captain in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, while Ken was a vice-president of Lehman Brothers investment bank until a few months before it collapsed in 2008.

"At 61 and 54 they were at higher risk than many of developing serious symptoms if they caught Covid-19, and sure enough they eventually become patients in their own hospital.

"For anyone who thinks that Covid is simply a flu-like illness I now point to Alex as an illustration of how it can bring a tough, stoical, ex-army man to his knees."

He had only missed one day's work in his life until catching the virus. 

After testing positive, he spent seven days in quarantine in his bedroom, but his condition worsened. 

Prof Wright said: "During a walk in the garden he started shaking and sweating, and his temperature rose to 40C. Four days later his son, who had already recovered from Covid-19, drove him to A&E.

"Supplied with new medication Alex went home again, to be looked after by his wife, a GP."

Prof Brown said: "It was really hard, I haven't known anything like it. I've been in some of the toughest situations imaginable but nothing like this. You feel so vulnerable. I had terrible fevers and chills - for nights this went on, and my temperature was so high."

Three weeks on, it's still a struggle.

He told Prof Wright: "I feel so bad being away from the wards, knowing I can't be there helping my colleagues."

Dr Linton did a PhD in engineering and computer science before going into banking.

He was headhunted by Lehman Brothers and transferred to Wall Street. As things started to go wrong for the bank in early 2008, his department was closed. A few months later the bank collapsed and the economic crash began. 

Then in his mid-40s, he contemplated becoming a chef but decided on medicine and had been volunteering in New York hospitals.

Prof Wright wrote: "As a lifelong asthmatic, Ken was worried when Covid-19 arrived in the UK this spring. Lots of his colleagues at Bradford Royal Infirmary were getting it, and he too eventually developed the symptoms on May 8."

Dr Linton explained how he went from being too hot to being "absolutely freezing" before he started being sick. 

He went into hospital and was soon on "about 10 medications" and oxygen. 

He told Prof Wright: "It's a horrendous disease because every day after that I had a new weird symptom.

"I had Covid toes. My kidneys shut down on the Wednesday morning. I got a dermatological condition - the arteries that supply the skin get blocked. There's a new surprise every day. The day before I went home I got this viral rash on my wrist."

He was in hospital for 10 days, but is now back home and desperate to get back to work.

Despite stories like this, Prof Wright said there's evidence to suggest that the exposure the NHS has received, especially through things like the Clap for Carers, will have put medicine and nursing as a career in the spotlight and "opened up people's minds". 

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