AN OXFORD University bursar who spent his 60th birthday in the JR with Covid-19 has told how he thought he was going to die there.

Dr Tim Clayden first began noticing symptoms on March 14 in the form of a high fever and aches.

He said: “The following weekend the aching started slowing down, I was sweating less and I was beginning to think that was it, but then I started having breathing difficulties.”

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Dr Clayden, who is bursar at Green Templeton College, was referred by his GP to the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Respiratory Intervention Service on March 23, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home with antibiotics.

The following night, however, he had trouble breathing so called an ambulance and was taken to A&E, where he was put on an oxygen machine and tested for Covid-19.

“At around 5am a doctor told me the results hadn’t come in, but they were pretty sure I had Covid-19.

Oxford Mail:

“The first night I was on the ward and I was so ill, there was one 3am moment where I thought ‘well this is how it happens, you just die’. It was pretty harrowing stuff."

Dr Clayden, whose wife of 40 years Kathy also had milder virus symptoms but has not been tested, said: “Emotionally it was very testing for me. Kathy was also ill but she didn’t tell me at the time, but when she sent me photographs I could see she really wasn’t very well at all."

By the weekend he said things started to look more positive, and he was finally let out of hospital on Sunday, March 29 – the day after his birthday.

However, while he was in the JR there was another twist in his tale when a doctor asked him if he would be interested in helping take part in some research.

He instantly replied: "Of course, if there’s anything I can do to help, let’s make some positives out of misery.”

Dr Clayden was moved to a ward for Covid-19 patients and put on antibiotic azithromycin as part of Oxford University’s Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial into comparing potential treatments. It is one of 15 high-priority studies at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

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Hospitalised virus patients are given the usual care at their hospital and randomly allocated one of several drugs previously used for other conditions, or no additional treatment.

The hope is these drugs can treat the symptoms of the virus and help patients recover faster. More than 9,000 UK participants are involved in the trial, with 146 at OUH.

Dr Clayden also joined another study into collecting samples and data to inform future treatments.

Oxford Mail:

However, looking back on the moment he finally got of the JR, he said he was left with one lasting memory.

He said: "Coming out of hospital that afternoon, going outside in the sun and feeling the breeze changed my life.

"It sounds dramatic, but when you have felt like you were going to die, just simple moments like that are fabulous."