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

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

Two men from south London are raising money for St Thomas’ after his best friend spent four months in 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 adds oxygen to the blood and takes away carbon dioxide – which is called ECMO.

He suffered sepsis, pneumonia, cardiac arrest, two collapsed lungs and a severe pulmonary embolism — but ended up defying the odds and returning home.

Brian in intensive care

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

He started to improve after being one of the first patients in the UK to receive Ronapreve, a Covid-19 drug.

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

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“I was too scared to move from the ICU to the ward because I was worried that something would go wrong, but the nurses were wonderful. I hadn’t left the house in three months, so one of them even pushed my bed out beside the River Thames.

Brian learning to walk again

He added: “The fact that I am still here today is due to the incredible staff and exceptional service I received. I owe it all to the nurses, doctors and therapists and I feel extremely fortunate to have received the ECMO treatment that undoubtedly saved my life.

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

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Williams was supposed to be a doorman at his friend Lloyd McMillan’s wedding before he got sick.

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

Matthew, Brian and Lloyd

McMillan said: “When Brian got Covid-19, it deteriorated relatively quickly and we were all getting more and more worried, which was around the same time as my marriage. It was a shock to see how sick he was, he didn’t look like Brian who went to the hospital.”

The 33-year-old added: “It’s very clear Brian is still here because of St Thomas’ so it was easy to try and give something back to make sure the next person gets out of the hospital like he did.”

Brian with his partner Adele

Lloyd, 34, agreed, praising the “commitment and relentless energy” of the St. Thomas, who took care of his friend.

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

To donate, click here.

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