49-year-old Jason Kelk, from Leeds, is said to be the UK's longest COVID-suffering patient after having first been hospitalised over a year ago.
The primary school IT teacher first checked into the hospital with a chest infection which turned out to be the coronavirus, requiring him to be transferred to intensive care and hooked up to a ventilator just 48 hours following admission.
He has since been off assisted breathing but Kelk has now found himself with lingering stomach problems that cause him to vomit daily. Gastroparesis—the disease that is claimed to have been caused by the coronavirus—has also rendered him unable to walk unaided. His wife Sue explains that:
He has been off the ventilator for four weeks... but we have an unknown amount of time until he can come home. Jason still has a tracheostomy and continues to vomit every day.
His kidneys and lungs had almost been completely destroyed and he has developed suspected gastroparesis. For a very long time, I was always told that it would be a question of if, not when, Jason would return home.
Experts are unsure of the link between this gastrointestinal disorder and the coronavirus as previous 'long COVID' symptoms have been reported to extend to no more than breathlessness, brain fog and muscle pains.
According to the NHS website, gastroparesis is said to come about about as a product of degenerating type 2 diabetes, which Mr. Kelk suffers from. However, previous studies have suggested that COVID can indeed disrupt the digestive system.
On the road towards recovery
Thankfully, Mr Kelk has progressively regained health and is soon to be discharged from the hospital. His wife said:
I'm so proud of him, it really is miraculous to see. He's managed to walk on the spot before and had taken a few steps but this was the first time he's walked like this. It was quite a long way–about six to 10 metres I think they said. It was a fantastic moment, I was absolutely buzzed.