Viewers were left ‘heartbroken’ as a nurse talked to the body of a 62-year-old man who died from coronavirus after beating cancer, while he washed him and pulled a shroud over his face.
Last night’s episode of Channel 4’s Surviving Covid followed the stories of four patients at London’s King’s College Hospital who had been struck down by Covid-19 – including builder David.
His childhood sweetheart and wife of 42 years, Gill, refused to believe the worst would happen, but devastatingly, David didn’t make it – and viewers were left with the harrowing image of his body being covered by a shroud by CCU nurse, Douglas Dillard, who said it was a ‘privilege’ to be there in his ‘last moment.’
‘The care given to those on #survivingCOVID AND special shout out to that gentle nurse who bathed and spoke to David every step of the way after his death; is breathtaking. I hope staff get a lifetime of mental health support. This must be so tough on them,’ wrote one viewer.
A second added: ‘The staff nurse who bathed David and spoke to him every step of the way after his peaceful death was just breathtaking, I take my hat off to these amazing people.’
In last night’s episode of Channel 4’s harrowing film Surviving Covid, David (pictured), 62, form the UK, who had overcome cancer, lost his battle with coronavirus
David’s wife and childhood sweetheart Gill (pictured), refused to believe the worst would happen, but devastatingly, her husband didn’t make it
Viewers praised CCU nurse, Douglas Dillard (pictured), who insisted talking to David as if he were still alive to ‘show respect’
The film followed David and his family over a six-month period and revealed a candid look at how devastating the impact of Covid-19 virus can be.
Speaking to the cameras, Gill explained that when they first heard about coronavirus and the nation went into lockdown, they thought it was ‘just a made up story.’
But David caught it at the end of January, when his immune system was weakened by previous cancer treatment.
‘He was diagnosed with cancer and we went in 24 January,’ explained Gill. ‘We started the conditioning treatment and the news from that was that he was cancer free.
But he went into hospital with some infections from the bone marrow, which is normal, and that’s when the Covid-19 hit him hard. We are confident and positive he’s going to come through it.’
David’s daughter went on to say how she thought being able to visit him in person, with full PPE, would help.
‘It’s not a measurable science, is it, unconditional love? But there is a value to it,’ she added.
Gill (pictured right, with Kelly, left) explained that when they first heard about coronavirus, they thought it was ‘just a made up story’
The childhood sweethearts (pictured) found that David’s admission to intensive care was the longest period they had been apart for 48 years
Taking to the comments section, one person penned: ‘The staff nurse who bathed David and spoke to him every step of the way after his peaceful death was just breathtaking’ (pictured)
Gill told how David was diagnosed with cancer and they went in 24 January, After starting the conditioning treatment, the news from that was that he was cancer free. Pictured, in hospital
David’s childhood sweetheart added that he went into hospital with some infections from the bone marrow, and that’s when the Covid-19 hit him hard. Pictured, in hospital
During the emotional film, Gill revealed that David’s admission to intensive care was the longest period they had been apart for 48 years.
Recalling the start of their relationship, she remembered: ‘Our first dance together as boyfriend and girlfriend was to Al Green’s “Let’s stay together.” I was 12. Then we got married when I was 17. We became parents a month before my 18th birthday.
We hadn’t got a clue what we were doing – 48 years, married 42. So yeah, it’s rare this day and age really.’
Gill then turned to her daughter and said: ‘The first thing we’re going to do when dad is out is book a family holiday. He’s always up for a laugh.’
Kelly added: ‘He’s got Peter Pan syndrome so he just forgets he’s the age he is. He just acts the clown.’
Gill went on to brand the virus ‘cruel,’ admitting that she’d been offered video calls with her husband but couldn’t bring herself to do one because he was obviously asleep.
‘Today I’ve got the chance to go up there,’ she said. ‘I’m nervous, excited. I just want to hold his hand, touch his skin and just talk to him. I don’t know if he’ll hear. In my mind and my heart he will.
It will give him the boost that he needs to do another fight. This Covid-19 cannot keep pounding him. It’s indescribable. It’s the silent one isn’t it – but it impacts people in so many different ways.’
David’s daughter Kelly said how she thought being able to visit in person, with full PPE, would help. Pictured, with David and Gill
Gill sat by husband David’s (pictured) side as his machines were switched off and told how she couldn’t believe he was gone
When Gill went to see David in hospital, she recalled the time his fishing chair broke and he ended up on his back holding the fishing rod (pictured)
Dressed in full PPE, Gill could be seen visiting her husband’s bedside, telling him: ‘Dave, I’m here. You keep fighting love. You keep fighting. You’ve got to come back, haven’t you? Come on babe – fishing season has started.
‘Do you remember when you took Izzy fishing, and your fishing chair broke? You ended up on your back holding your fishing rod. We did laugh.’
However, tragically, doctors later revealed there were ‘lots of hurdles’ that David wasn’t quite clearing. He then deteriorated and reached ‘the end of what ICU could offer him.’
‘I know what they’re trying to say, they have to prepare you,’ said Gill, as Dr Hurst gently explained David was showing no signs of recovery. ‘I’m not ready to be prepared yet, because he’s got fight in him.’
Gill, who was sat by David’s side as his machines were switched off, told how she couldn’t believe he was gone.
‘It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t make it,’ she said. ‘He was only 62. I remember asking: “Are you telling me you’re giving up on my husband?” But they didn’t. They never gave up on him.
‘Then we saw him, and we were able to be there when he died. And when we were ready, they switched the machine off – and he just slipped away. The hardest day.’
In the next scene, CCU nurse Douglas could be seen cleaning and speaking to David’s body as if he were still alive.
Speaking to David, he said: ‘Right David, I’m just going to take your blanket off there. I’m just going to give you a wee wash. Just drying your neck off and your shoulders.’
Turning to the cameras, Douglas explained: ‘I’ve looked after him for the last three shifts in a row. I always used to wash him in the morning. This is what we call last offices. We just treat them like they were there before – there’s no change.
‘We still talk to them just to show respect. I’ve looked after him so much I feel like I know him.’
Gill (pictured) said it never crossed her mind that husband David wouldn’t make it because he was only 62
David’s childhood sweetheart recalled how she saw him and was able to be there when he died. Pictured, the funeral
David’s daughter Kelly told how her father had Peter Pan syndrome because he never acted his age. Pictured, David
Viewers were quick to take to social media to offer their deepest condolences to David’s family (pictured)
Because of the intensity of the situation, it’s always life and death – so you get to know them really well.
‘If they make a recovery then it’s a real privilege to be there for that and even in death it’s a privilege to be there as well because it’s their last moment.’
Elsewhere, volunteer Helen Chown, whose job it is to write down the names of the deceased in the hospital chapel’s memorial book, added: ‘It’s a bit of a shock to my system to be putting lots and lots of names down on the same day.’
And heartbroken viewers who tuned in were quick to offer David’s family and loved ones their deepest condolences – with one even branding it ‘mandatory viewing’ to warn of the harsh reality of the virus.
‘Surviving Covid on Ch4 is brutal, heartbreaking stuff. I so hoped David would make it,’ wrote one, while a second penned: ‘Each patient and their families having to deal with life-changing, long-term effects. The brilliant NHS staff providing the most dedicated, caring treatment. It should be mandatory viewing.’
A third added: ‘The delicate care and love shown to David as he was put in to the body bag,’ while a fourth wrote: ‘#survivingCOVID was so hard to watch, deeply moving, best wishes to all featured, RIP David.’