St Thomas’: South Londoners raising money for hospital that saved best friend’s life

Brian Williams spent nine days in a coma and seven weeks on life support with Covid-19

Two south London men are raising money for St Thomas’ after their best friend spent four months in the hospital fighting for his life.

Brian Williams, 36, was hospitalized in July last year with Covid-19 and spent nine days in a coma and nearly seven weeks on a life-support machine that added oxygen into his blood and took out carbon dioxide – which is called an ECMO.

He suffered sepsis, pneumonia, a cardiac arrest, two collapsed lungs and a severe pulmonary embolism – but eventually defied the odds and returned home.

Brian in intensive care

Mr Williams had been vaccinated but suffers from an immune system disorder that makes it harder for his body to fight infections.

He started to get better after being one of the first patients in the UK to get Ronapreve, a medicine for Covid-19.

He said: “I was determined to get better so started learning to walk again while on ECMO. I thought my best chance of recovery was to build up my strength and to use my lungs.

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“I was quite scared to move from ICU to the ward because I was worried something would go wrong but the nurses were wonderful. I hadn’t been outside for three months so one of them even wheeled my bed outside next to the River Thames.

Brian learning to walk again

He added: “The fact I’m still here today is all down to the incredible staff and exceptional care I received. I owe the nurses, doctors and therapists everything and feel extremely fortunate to have been given ECMO treatment which no doubt saved my life.

“The staff supported me physically and psychologically and were there for chats at 3am when I couldn’t sleep – without them it would have been impossible. I’ve seen what they go through in a 12 hour shift and then they go home and come back to do it all again. They saved my life and nothing will ever match what they did for me, but I want to try and give something back in any way I can.”

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Mr Williams was supposed to be an usher at his friend Lloyd McMillan’s wedding before he got ill.

Mr McMillan and their other friend Matthew Lloyd, both from Battersea, are now running the Copenhagen marathon this Sunday (May 15) to raise money for Guy’s & St Thomas’ charity in gratitude for their friend’s life being saved.

Matthew, Brian and Lloyd

Mr McMillan said: “When Brian caught Covid-19 he deteriorated relatively quickly and we were all becoming increasingly worried, which was around the same time as my wedding. It was a shock to see just how sick he was, he didn’t look like the Brian that went into hospital.”

The 33-year-old added: “It’s very clear that Brian’s still here because of St Thomas’ so it was a no brainer to try and give something back to make sure the next person gets to leave hospital like he did.”

Brian with his partner Adele

Mr Lloyd, 34, agreed, praising the “commitment and unrelenting energy” of the St Thomas’ staff who looked after their friend.

He added: “The staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and the extraordinary technology we’re fortunate to have access to in the UK, saved our friend’s life. We know that anything we raise can and will help to save someone else’s.”

To donate, click here.

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