A WOMAN has spoken of her heartbreak as her husband, who has dementia, lay close to death with Covid-19.

David Hargreaves, of Keighley, was confused and alone in care homes and hospitals while loving wife Dawn had to wait helplessly on the end of a phone line.

Dawn, a volunteer with Dementia Friendly Keighley, suffered a rollercoaster of emotions as her husband fought the virus.

More than once she was told to prepare for David’s death, and was forced to discuss his end-of-life care with doctors.

David, who was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s disease aged 56, managed to survive his ordeal – but still Dawn could only see him from outside through his bedroom window.

Dawn runs the monthly DFK social group at the Brown Cow pub and has been caring for her husband since he was diagnosed six years ago.

DFK trustee Maggie Marsden said that throughout her horrific experience Dawn had continued to give support to group members.

Maggie added: “She has also received terrific support from her own family as well as the family that is DFK’s Brown Cow social group.”

When Covid-19 struck, David was having his needs assessed at a care assessment unit for a possible permanent move to a care home.

Dawn said: “The home was put in lockdown which meant no visits were allowed. All I could do was telephone to see how he was. Speaking to him wasn’t easy as he had difficulty understanding.”

Then Dawn received a call from the home to say David had stopped walking, eating or drinking. Two days later he was admitted to Airedale Hospital with Covid-19, and was in such a critical condition that Dawn was asked her wishes regarding a DNR (do not resuscitate).

Dawn said: “I was told that even though he was having difficulty breathing, they wouldn’t be able to ventilate him, and would just give him oxygen.

“I was devastated. It was awful that I couldn’t be with him, and all I could do was wait for a phone call from the hospital.

“From what I was told I didn’t expect David to last the night, and over the weekend there was no change. On Monday I received another phone call from the Covid ward to ask me about palliative care as they didn’t think David would pull through, or if he did what his quality of life would be like.

“The only time I would be able to see him was near end of life. I was so upset at having to make a life-or-death decision, and it made it worse by not being able to be with him, to hold his hand and let him know I was there.

“He was all all alone in hospital and he would be totally confused about where he was and seeing people with masks on.”

By midweek David needed less oxygen and started to recover. A nurse took a photograph of him cuddling his toy monkey for Dawn to see.

Dawn said: “As he came round a bit more I could Face Time him through the hospital which was brilliant, but every time I cried.”

David was then moved to a care home.

She said: “On the first visit I was over the moon to be able to see him, even though it was through a window, and I just wanted to hug him. You”He didn’t understand why I was outside and he became upset.

“July 28 was our 13th wedding anniversary. I was able to meet David in the garden of his care home and we shared some non-alcoholic beer and wine to celebrate.

“ It was lovely to be together again and, although we couldn’t hug or kiss, it felt like I was there for him at last.

“Now we are back in lockdown and I don’t know when we’ll be able to meet face to face again.”