Pair run Copenhagen Marathon for hospital which saved friend’s life

Two friends took on the Copenhagen Marathon to thank the hospital that saved their best friend’s life after he caught Covid-19.

Brian Williams, of Riddlesdown Road, Purley, was admitted to his local hospital in July 2021 after suffering with breathing difficulties as a result of contracting Covid-19.

He was transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital two months later for specialist treatment in the intensive care unit.

The 36-year-old has XLA (X-linked agammaglobulinemia), an immune system disorder that reduces the body’s ability to fight infections.

Despite taking medication for the condition and having the Covid-19 vaccine, Brian suffered a severe reaction to the virus.

He said: “I have never felt as rough as I did. I literally couldn’t move and after 10 days my breathing was really bad and I dreaded going to bed.

“I never really appreciated how serious it was.”

Lloyd and Matthew in Copenhagen before the marathon (Picture: Brian Williams)

Once at St Thomas’ Hospital, Brian spent nine days in a coma and 47 days on an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine, which continuously takes blood from the body, adds oxygen, removes carbon dioxide and then returns it to the body.

The treatment provides the highest level of life support by temporarily replacing the work of the lungs or heart in patients with severe lung or heart failure, allowing their organs to heal.

Brian started to turn a corner after he became one of the first patients in the UK to receive Ronapreve, a monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19.

Four months after initially becoming ill and suffering sepsis, pneumonia, a cardiac arrest, two collapsed lungs and a severe pulmonary embolism, Brian defied the odds and returned home.

And Brian’s best friends Lloyd McMillan and Matthew Lloyd took on the Copenhagen Marathon on Sunday, May 15 to raise money for Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity.

They achieved their target times – sub-four hours for Lloyd and an incredible sub-three hours for Matthew.

Matthew, of Rush Hill Road, Battersea, said: “Such was the severity of Brian’s condition, if he didn’t have the absolute best possible care he wouldn’t be here today – it was amazing to see the commitment and unrelenting energy of everyone caring for him.”

Brian in hospital (Picture: Brian Williams)

Lloyd, of Battersea Park Road, Battersea, said: “When Brian caught Covid-19 he deteriorated relatively quickly and we were all becoming increasingly worried, which was around the same time as my wedding.

“It was a shock to see just how sick he was, he didn’t look like the Brian that went into hospital.

“It’s very clear that Brian’s still here because of St Thomas’ so it was a no brainer to try and give something back to make sure the next person gets to leave hospital like he did.”

To support Matthew and Lloyd, visit

To find out more about Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, visit

Pictured top: From left, Matt, Brian and Lloyd (Picture: Brian Williams)

Croydon – South London News