FACES OF COVID | ‘I will fight,’ says son after dad dies of Covid-19 in hospital bed next to him
His hospital bed is empty. His voice has gone quiet and a giant in the family has fallen.
A Cape Town pianist remains hopeful that he will overcome Covid-19 after he had to watch his father slowly losing his battle to the virus in a hospital bed next to him.
“The one moment he was fine and the next moment he just died. It was a huge shock, like somebody stabbed you through your heart.
“I was in so much pain as well, but I had to be strong,” Elton Lodewyk told TimesLIVE from his hospital bed on Thursday morning.
Lodewyk lost his father weeks after he flew from Prague in the Czech Republic to support his mother, who suffered a stroke. His mother Anne, 68, was admitted to hospital and ended up in a coma.
Lodewyk - who has been living in Europe with his wife Lucie for the past six years, and now has a seven-month-old daughter, Victoria - arrived in SA just before Christmas.
His mother’s health started improving, but on Christmas day his father Willem, who had worked as a truck driver, started vomiting.
“We thought it was maybe because my mom had a stroke, so it was hard on him.
“While I was at a friend, my sister called me and said they found my dad next to his bed. We had to rush him to hospital by ambulance,” Lodewyk said.
He said his father was admitted to the Stellenbosch Provincial Hospital after his Covid-19 test came back positive.
A few days later, Lodewyk suffered from shortness of breath and underwent a Covid-19 test. His test also came back positive and he was admitted to the same hospital.
“I believe I contracted the virus during the time when we rushed him [father] to hospital.”
Lodewyk and his 72-year-old father, who he described as a supportive man, were admitted in the same hospital ward.
He said his father's health deteriorated dramatically.
“He hardly spoke and he was so confused. For me it was heartbreaking to see my dad like this. He was never in hospital all his life and to see Covid-19 taking him away like this, killed our family.”
Sandra Maritz from the Cape Winelands district health department confirmed that Willem’s symptoms included confusion and restlessness.
Willem lost his battle to Covid-19 on Monday.
“He was always there for the family and an extremely hard worker. He was someone who was talented with his hands. He was a jack of all trades — the guy that can fix and build anything,” his son said.
Lodewyk is still in hospital.
“I'm doing better. My oxygen levels are not where they should be and at the moment it's slow progress.
“What keeps me fighting is my family because it’s very hard on them.”
His siblings also tested positive for the virus, but they were recovering well at home.
Maritz said the Stellenbosch Hospital, like other hospitals in the province, are under a lot of pressure.
“As Covid-19 figures climb, more people including health-care workers are infected.
“Currently nine of the hospital’s nursing staff are on sick leave and in isolation. The current bed utilisation rate in the Covid-19 ward at the hospital is at 44%.
“To strengthen the system, the department employs contract staff and its recruitment drive has gained momentum with additional staff being appointed,” she said.