'Think about what research can do for others'
John Curtis has urged others to think of the benefit to wider society when considering whether to take part in research.
John, a taxi driver from Romford in Essex, fell ill with coronavirus in mid-August, after initially having a dry cough. “I’d had a bit of a dry cough for a while, but I just put it down to the air conditioning in my cab,” he explained. “It got worse, so I went to a drive-through test centre and took a test, which came back positive.”
John isolated at home but woke up one morning with shortness of breath. He called 111 but struggled to get the words out to explain how he was feeling. He said: “I was having to take a break when I was speaking to the lady on the phone, just so I could get my breath back. She told me an ambulance was coming for me. The paramedics who attended told me my blood oxygen was low and put me on oxygen straight away.”
John was taken to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, where he was admitted to a ward with other COVID-19 patients. He was there a couple of days when doctors approached him about taking part in the RECOVERY trial, which is comparing different treatments for those hospitalised with COVID-19.
John was given three options. “I could continue just being on oxygen,” he explained, “or I could have antibiotics or blood plasma. Everything was very professionally done. I signed a consent form and I knew exactly what I was being asked to do. The plasma arrived not long after that.”
John had two infusions of plasma and, while he cannot prove that they made him better, he says he certainly felt better after having them.
The 58-year-old father of two was in hospital for six days but is still recovering from his brush with coronavirus: “I still feel quite tired, he said. It was his first experience of a clinical trial, but he would certainly consider taking part in another if given the chance.
His message to others considering taking part? “Don’t just think it’s for you,” he said. “All the treatments we have come about through research. In my situation it was an easy choice to take part in the trial, but taking part in research more widely makes complete sense to me.”
The Be Part of Research website includes information on taking part in research and how we are keeping people safe in their research appointments.