The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds man Don recovers from coronavirus after his brother dies

26 May 2020

Leeds man Don Gill has returned home after fighting off coronavirus - despite his brother dying from the virus in the same hospital.

Don went into hospital with Covid-19 symptoms on 31 March with his older brother Keith and spent 34 days fighting for his life.

Sadly, after just five days his brother died of the illness leaving Don to continue his battle to beat the virus.   At one stage he too was told he might die from the condition.

His brother’s death spurred him to get better, and despite being on oxygen and in the intensive care unit, Don managed to pull through and even celebrate his birthday while in hospital.  He was well enough to return home to Beeston, Leeds at the beginning of May – 34 days after being brought into hospital.

Don lived with his 78-year-old brother Keith, and when they both showed symptoms of the virus they were brought into hospital together.   But after his brother’s death it was then for Don to find his own strength to beat Covid-19.

“I had a telephone call from the family after Keith’s death to tell me to keep fighting,” he said.  “I didn’t know how I was going to overcome it – I felt sure I was going to die.  The treatment I got from the team was fantastic and they brought me back from the brink.

“Prior to going onto the ward I can’t remember anything but I then recall starting to eat,” he said.  “It was a blow losing Keith, but after that I slowly started recovering.  I want to say a big thank you to all the staff for what they did for me.”


Don, a retired civil servant, was well enough to be transferred to ward J09 where he celebrated his 77th birthday with cake and cards.  When he left the ward to go home he received a “clap of honour” from the staff which is given to all leaving Covid-19 patients to show how proud staff are of them during difficult times.  

Senior Sister, Faye Johnson, who is ward manager on J09 at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, said that everyone rightly speaks about how wonderful the nursing staff are in dealing with coronavirus but also must not forget what patients have been through. 

“We do need to remember what a traumatic experience it is for patients too at a time when they haven’t got their loved ones with them,” she said.  “In Don’s case to also lose his brother while they were both in the same hospital was very hard.  He was very ill and has done so well to pull through and we’re all very proud of him.”