The UK’s "longest Covid-19 inpatient" who spent the past 14-and-a-half months in hospital has died after deciding he could not "live like this anymore".
Jason Kelk, 49, was admitted to St James’ Hospital, in Leeds, on March 31 last year and remained there until Friday when he was moved to a hospice and died later in the day surrounded by his family.
His heartbroken wife Sue Kelk, 63, said Jason's battle had become too much and that he had come to the decision to withdraw all treatment.
Paying tribute to her "soulmate" of 20 years, Sue added: “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, was admitted to hospital on March 31 and just days later on April 3 he was transferred to intensive care.
He remained there ever since, fighting for his life on numerous occasions after the virus ravaged his lungs and kidneys.
Jason went on to develop such severe stomach issues that he was having to be fed intravenously when 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.
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 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.”
Sue said that Jason was surrounded by her, his mum, dad and sister when he died this morning.
He also leaves 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”. 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.”