Covid survivor feels 'incredibly grateful' to hospital staff

Covid survivor George Murray with grandchildren Emily (2), Connor (13), Cameron (14), Owen (2) and Eloise (15)

Covid survivor George Murray with wife Lesley and grandchildren, from left, Emily (2), Connor (13), Owen (2), Cameron (14) and Eloise (15) - Credit: Murray family

As George Murray approached his 69th birthday in hospital with Covid, his loving family feared he would not live to see it.

Mr Murray spent 11 weeks at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after catching Covid and his family members were twice called in by ward staff to say their goodbyes.

However Mr Murray, a self-professed "stubborn Scotsman" refused to be beaten and on his 69th birthday, on April 13 of 2021, he was discharged from hospital and home to his family in Hellesdon.

Now, as he celebrates the 70th birthday his family thought he would never see, the saddler has reflected on his fight against the virus - and expressed his gratitude to the staff that cared for him throughout his battle.

He said: "I do still struggle with certain things. I find it difficult to breathe sometimes and my hands do not work as well as they used to, but I've come a long way.

"I don't remember much about the first five weeks I had in hospital - it was much harder for my family than it was for me though - but I was absolutely determined I would not let it beat me."

He spent five weeks being treated on a ventilator, before having to then spend another six weeks in hospital recuperating.

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Mr Murray continued: "The final six weeks were a case of learning how to do things again - learning how to talk again, how to swallow and how to walk.

"I needed a hell of a lot of help and found it difficult to just get myself out of bed."

After returning home, he initially struggled to climb the four steps to his door and had to sleep downstairs as he was unable to climb the stairs - with his wife Lesley having to provide him full-time care.

But gradually, the grandfather-of-five was able to build up his level of activity.

George Murray prepares gifts for the hospital staff who treated him during his fight with Covid

George Murray prepares gifts for the hospital staff who treated him during his fight with Covid - Credit: Murray family

He said: "You have to push yourself and want to get better - it doesn't just happen with time. I saw some other people in hospital who just seemed to think this way.

"I really didn't understand before quite how serious Covid can be though - I was sure I wouldn't catch it, but now I've had it the worst of anyone in my family. My wife had it, my daughter Karen had it and so did my granddaughter Eloise.

"We are all now still really careful about it - I still wear masks when I go to the shops and other places, I don't care whether it is the rules or not, it is just common sense."

In the weeks after his discharge, Mr Murray returned to the hospital to deliver gifts of appreciation for the staff who cared for him over the course of his 11 weeks.

George Murray delivers gifts to staff members at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

George Murray delivers gifts to staff members at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital - Credit: Murray family

He added: "They really went the extra mile, they all work so hard. You would see nurses mopping the floor and doing all sorts of things you wouldn't expect to see them doing.

"I'm so incredibly grateful for everything they did - the staff became like a second family to me. I actually got a bit emotional when I left."

Mrs Murray added: "George is my hero, but the staff are my other heroes. 

"It was a long and hard journey for us before he came home. We really didn't think he would make it but he stuck it out and the care he was given was incredible."

The pair have three children, Karen, Kathryn and George Junior, and five grandchildren, 15-year-old Eloise, 14-year-old Cameron, 13-year-old Connor and Emily and Owen, both two.

Daughter Karen said: "None of us said goodbye to him because we knew how much of a fighter he is, but we did dread calls from the hospital.

"Throughout his stay in hospital, the staff were absolutely fantastic. Dad calls them his angels and we call them our heroes.

"They literally saved his life and for that we will always be grateful."