Lee James Dodds was only 32 when he died and his wife, Charmaine, hopes the inquiry will reveal why people like her husband lost their lives
By Democrat reporter
The grieving widow of a man who died of Covid after being turned away from hospital three times is demanding answers as a probe into the virus outbreak begins.
Lee James Dodds was just 32 when he died in 2021 and his wife, Charmaine, hopes the judge-led Covid Inquiry will uncover why people like her husband lost their lives.
He was one of 16,450 people in Scotland who died from the disease. The inquiry, which begins in Edinburgh today, will investigate how the outbreak was handled by the SNP Government, hospitals and care homes, including homes in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute.
Mrs Dodds, 35, said the tragedy of Lee’s death continues to haunt her. She told one Daily Record journalist: “Lee was our world and we were never apart. He was the perfect husband and the perfect dad, and we were all latched on to each other’s hips.
“We feel like our world has ended. For a full year I had to cuddle our children to sleep. They still struggle seeing their dad’s name. I begged for help three times but nobody listened to me. If they had, Lee would still be with us.
“By the time they took him in to hospital, it was too late. The staff in intensive care were fantastic but by then it was too late.”
She added: “People need to be held accountable for my husband’s death.”
Charmaine worked throughout lockdown, looking after key workers’ children at a nursery. But her world was turned upside down when plasterer Lee, from Ayr, died on April 2, 2021.
Lee snr said: “The children felt sick and were sweating but when they were getting better, Lee started deteriorating.
“By March 13, Charmaine phoned doctors on call and they said to take Lee to Crosshouse Hospital’s Covid Assessment Unit. They examined him and their diagnosis was worsening Covid-19 and asthma exacerbation. They sent him home with steroids.”
Lee snr added that even though his son was asthmatic he wasn’t X-rayed so the condition of his lungs was not properly assessed. Three days later, the family saw a further deterioration in Lee and Charmaine took him back to hospital.
This time he was told he was getting better and was sent home with co-codamol painkillers. But just a day later Charmaine was still concerned and called an ambulance after testing his oxygen saturation levels, which were at 85 per cent.
But when the paramedics arrived, and were told of Lee’s recent history, they said that if they took him to hospital he would just be sent home again. Lee snr said: “Lee James was struggling and the paramedic acknowledged that.
“We’d got him out of his bed before the ambulance arrived and brought him downstairs. The paramedics said if they took him to hospital he would just be sent home again. They told him this four times.
“Lee said he didn’t think he could make the journey there and back so they made him sign a document saying he refused to go.”
The other paramedic called Lee’s GP and asked if she was going to come to see him and then said, ‘OK, so you’re not coming out’. But, unbeknown to the family, during that call the doctor was actually telling paramedics to take Lee to hospital and that she had already pre-warned the hospital he was coming in.
Just 33 hours later he was rushed into Ayr Hospital. But by then his condition had deteriorated. He didn’t recover and his family didn’t see him conscious again. Lee sent Charmaine a text message which read, “My lungs are a mess” before he was transferred elsewhere.
Eventually he was told he needed to go on a ventilator as two chambers of his heart were struggling. But he was terrified as he feared he would never come back off it.
The hospital organised a Zoom call with his dad. Lee snr said: “I could see the fear on his face and the tears in his eyes.
“I had to tell him he needed to go on it [the ventilator] because his heart was slowing down and his body couldn’t cope. I promised him we’d come to see him when he came out of it.
“He started crying, ‘Dad, dad, I don’t want to go on the ventilator’. That stays with me every day. He lasted a week then had multiple organ failure.”