A Muslim bodybuilder has left hospital at last after spending 48 days in a coma and nearly dying from Covid-19.
Taxi driver Mohammed Azeem, 35, was admitted on April 14 to Bradford Royal Infirmary in the northern UK city of Bradford.
In total he spent almost 70 days in hospital fighting the illness before being released.
During his time in a coma his mother also contracted Covid-19 and did not survive.
"I was in a coma for seven weeks and couldn't come around. Everyone lost hope in me and they were about to turn the machines off but through fight and struggle I woke up in the end," he said.
"I don’t think the nurses could believe it when I finally came out of the coma and was able to talk to them and then stand up.
"I know I was at death’s door and I couldn’t have got through this if it hadn’t been for the doctors and nurses and the physiotherapists. I haven’t the words to say just how grateful I am.”
When Mr Azeem discovered he had lost his mother to coronavirus and had not been able to say goodbye he was deeply saddened.
“When I came out of the coma and the nurses told me about my mum, it was devastating," he said.
"I wanted to see my dad and the rest of my family but because of infection risks I couldn’t; that was one of the hardest things. But the nurses treated me like their family and were by my side day and night, supporting me and keeping me going and giving me a reason to get better."
Medical staff from three wards at Bradford Royal Infirmary gathered to clap and cheer as he at last left the building, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“When they eventually said I could go home, I couldn’t believe it and as I was leaving, I was crying and some of the nurses were crying," he added.
"These people have saved my life. I still have a long road to recovery but each day I am feeling that bit stronger. I just want to say thank you to all those who helped me.
"[Coronavirus] is not a joke, it's serious. Keep your distance, keep your masks on. Trust the hospitals, they look after you."
Mr Azeem had been too scared to go to hospital and possibly survived only because his friend called an ambulance when he was unable to walk.
Medics described him as the sickest young man they had seen, his oxygen saturation levels were dangerously low at 60 per cent.
In his diary for the BBC, Professor John Wright, an epidemiologist who is head of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, said doctors had feared the worst.
"The intensive care unit team had numerous heartbreaking conversations with his family, preparing them for the worst, but Mohammed had other ideas,” he said.
"Deep within his comatose body there was an ember of vitality that kept glowing. Each time it looked as though it was about to extinguish it flickered back into flame."
A healthy person has blood oxygen saturation levels of 95 per cent or higher and a drop below 80 per cent can lead to organ failure.
"Of all our Covid inpatients, Mohammed was with us the longest to date, and his story has touched us all," chief nurse Karen Dawber said.
“He has shown true fighting spirit and a real zest for life and we wish him all the very best for his continued recovery.”