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Huntly coronavirus widow warns people not to think they are immune

By Pat Scott

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THE widow of a man who died at the weekend after contracting coronavirus is pleading with people not to think they are immune to the deadly illness.

Less than a year ago, Steve Rhodes (73) took to the catwalk as a model in the Brave charity fashion show for Friends of the Anchor Unit.

The retired health and safety advisor had lived with a blood disorder for 17 years but lost his life to the deadly Covid-19 virus on Sunday afternoon.

His wife of 32 years, Ros, saw him for a final time through the windows of the room where he was being treated earlier in the afternoon and was back at their home in Forgue when she got the call to say he had died.

Steve, determined to fight the virus endured five days of CPAP treatment - the average is two - but as his condition deteriorated, Ros consented forit to be withdrawn and he be given oxygen therapy and medication to ease his agitation.

Ros said: "We had been able to keep in touch by text message which the nurses read to him. On that final visit I knocked on the glass and he responded with a wave and gave me a thumbs up. The nurses with him told me they passed on my messages of love and held his hand and stroked his head as he drifted away."

Steve was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Sunday, April 5 because of weakness in his legs but had been attending the hospital on a daily basis for the month beforehand for IV antibiotic and platelet treatment for the blood cancer.

The following day he was routinely tested for Covid-19 and was stunned to be told he was positive.

When he called Ros to tell her of the test result, she could sense that he had not expected to be told it was positive.

Ros said: "He was wheeled into ARI on the Sunday because his legs were weak then called me to say he was being admitted. I could only hand over his case at the main entrance because of the restrictions - the picture in my mind is him being taken away in in the wheelchair. Neither of us thought then he had Covid -19. He called on the Monday and I could tell that he was stunned but he said he would fight it all the way but it's an impossible battle."

Ros and Steve had been maintaining the highest standards of hygiene for the daily visits to ARI because of Covid -19.

Ros said: "He had no option but go for the treatment, I would stay in the car and we were very thorough about washing our hands and cleaned door handles and such like on our return.

"Steve lived with a blood condition for 17 years. When it mutated to cancer he was given a life expectancy of one to two years but more than three years on he was still going and would still have been here but for Covid -19. It wasn't the blood disorder that killed him it was coronavirus.

"We were doing our best and living in hope we would be okay but I underestimated Covid -19 thinking it was just another flu virus that would affect some people worse than others

"People need to take it seriously and follow the lockdown rules.

"Don't think it won't happen to you because believe me it truly can.

"We might think we live in rural Aberdeenshire with all the space around us and fewer people but it's here.

"Someone 20 yards in front of you might cough and you could inhale that cough. It's a vicious, invisible killer

"Steve was not showing any of the symptoms, no temperature, no cough - fatigue yes and he had lung congestion but that's what the IV antibiotics were for."

As soon as Steve received the diagnosis, Ros when into self isolation and her only visitors have been Steve's son, Alan and his wife Jessica who left groceries for her, observing well in excess of the safe distances recommended. Ros also received a call to tell her how to deal with bedding to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

None of the couple's friends have been able to visit to offer their condolences, instead Ros has been taking comfort from the numerous text messages and e mails which she has been receiving.

According to Steve's wishes his body will be cremated privately but his wish for a memorial service at a later date remains on hold.

Erica Banks, who met Steve during preparations for the fashion show last May said: "Steve was a truly inspiring man to all of us at Friends of ANCHOR.

Steve and Ros were both enthusiastic members of the Keith and Dufftown Railway Association and Steve served on the board until 18 months ago.

They both were special constables for a time and Steve was a member of Strathbogie Community Council and supporter of Friends of Forgue Kirk.

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