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Dad dies after 'catching coronavirus at daughter's 40th birthday party'

A grandfather who died of coronavirus is believed to have caught the bug at his daughter’s 40th birthday party.

Douglas Chambers, from Glasgow, was one of five people who became unwell with Covid-19 symptoms after attending the bash for his daughter Wendy Russell.

Ms Russell also fell ill three days after the party with a fever, aches and a shortness of breath that made it feel like she was drowning.

When Mr Chambers developed the same symptoms, he “knew what it meant”, but he was determined to beat the disease and get out of the hospital.

Mr Chambers, who had asthma and a heart condition, spent just over two weeks in hospital before his family was forced to turn off his life support on March 26.

Have you been affected by coronavirus? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Douglas Chambers and his daughter Wendy Russell on her wedding day (Image: Rutherglen Reformer)

Doctors told them there was nothing else they could do to save him.

His family made recordings of their voices and a playlist of his favourite Rolling Stones songs for hospital staff to play on a loop as he lay unconscious in an intensive care unit.

Ms Russell told the Rutherglen Reformer:  “After he found out he had it, he was in tears, so upset.

Mr Chambers with his granddaughters Mia, Kerrie and Anna (Image: Rutherglen Reformer)

“He knew himself what it meant. He was heartbroken when he phoned me up to let me know.”

Ms Russell and the other three party guests recovered.

They believe they contracted the virus at the party on March 7, just over two weeks before the UK’s lockdown began.

At that time, there were only 11 confirmed cases in Scotland and all involved patients who became infected abroad.

Coronavirus wasn’t even a topic of discussion at the birthday party, said Ms Russell.

Within a week of falling ill, Mr Chambers was admitted to hospital, where he tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.

As his condition worsened, he suddenly stopped replying to loved ones’ text messages and their calls weren’t going through to his mobile.

He was sedated and put on a ventilator in the ICU, and on March 26 a doctor delivered the devastating news that nothing else could be done in a bid to save him.

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Mr Chambers’ daughter, Lynsey Chambers, 43, had to carry out the heartbreaking decision to switch off her father’s life support alone because her sister, Ms Russell, was still unwell.

Ms Chambers wore personal protective equipment (PPE), including a mask, as she was allowed to go in and say goodbye to her dying father.

The grieving sisters were unable to comfort each other due to isolation rules.

Mum-of-one Ms Russell said: “Lynsey cannot sleep, because she feels like she has played God. 

Mr Chambers and Ms Russell did the North Coast 500 on their motorcycles last year (Image: Rutherglen Reformer)

“She is tearing herself apart, because she was the only one there and did not have that family network of support.”

Their father was laid to rest this week, but the sisters were unable to hold a funeral for him or give him a fitting tribute due to lockdown rules which have placed restrictions on services.

People in Bridgeton, where he grew up, stood and applauded as his coffin was taken from a funeral home. They timed their daily exercise so they could pay tribute to him.

Ms Russell, now recovered, rode his Triumph America motorbike behind the hearse.

It is thought that Mr Chambers contracted the virus at his daughter’s birthday party (Image: Rutherglen Reformer)

The funeral was restricted to just 10 mourners.

Ms Russell said: “It is a lottery who gets to go. No church service, no last respects, no family cars. At one point we weren’t sure we would get a minister to do the service.

“We couldn’t even pick a coffin due to the shortage. The family can’t get together afterwards. They just have to go home.

“You cannot get together for a cup of tea and have a laugh about the good times. You cannot grieve. This is the kind of stuff people need to know.”

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The Coronavirus lockdown is a worrying time for millions across the UK.

But it’s also bringing out the best in people who are selflessly giving their time each day to help those most in need.

Our Mirror Coronavirus Heroes series wants to recognise all of those helping the most vulnerable during the crisis.

Whether it’s a local business going the extra mile for the community or a teenager helping an elderly neighbour, we want to hear about it.

You can email your stories of Mirror Coronavirus Heroes to webnews@mirror.co.uk.

The first known case of community transmission was announced on March 11.

But Ms Russell said: “Coronavirus is right here and it has been here for a long time. There was definitely community transmission at that event on March 7. It had infected my family within a week.

“We caught it right at the beginning. And within a month, this hit us in the face.”

She said her father was determined to win his battle with Covid-19 and had talked about plans outside the hospital.

During one of their final conversations, they talked about a personal shopping service for elderly people who were self-isolating.

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The programme was offered by the charity LEAP, which Ms Russell works for and Mr Chambers volunteered with as a handyman.

From his hospital bed, he told his youngest daughter: “When I get out of here, I will need something like that because I will not be going out my door for four months.

“If I need to do something to make sure people are safe, whatever it is, I will do it.”

She has urged people to follow the lockdown rules and social distancing guidelines, and advised the elderly and vulnerable to shield themselves indoors and take advantage of services which can do shopping and errands for them.

She added: “What is really frustrating is that people are still going out and acting as if nothing is happening. They feel invincible and consider it just to be a bout of flu they can shrug off.

“It is so much more, and they should think of the responsibility they are putting on the family.

“You see pictures of older people walking in the Main Street and it is driving me insane. They are vulnerable. It is their families who are going to have to deal with this.

“If you are not going to stay in for yourself, stay in for your family. Because what is left behind for the family is sheer devastation.”

More than 350 people have now died in Scotland after contracting coronavirus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced 70 new deaths on Wednesday, taking Scotland’s death toll to 366.

As of 5pm on Monday, 6,159 people have died in the UK.


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