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The family of the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has donated his ventilator to Royal Papworth Hospital as it cares for increasing numbers of patients with coronavirus (COVID-19).
Professor Hawking’s daughter Lucy said: “Our father received brilliant, dedicated and compassionate medical care from both Royal Papworth and Addenbrooke’s hospitals in Cambridge. As a ventilated patient, Royal Papworth was incredibly important to my father and helped him through some very difficult times. We realised that it would be at the forefront of the COVID-19 epidemic and got in touch with some of our old friends there to ask if we could help.
She adds: “After our father passed away, we returned all the medical equipment he used that belonged to the NHS but there were some items which he bought for himself. We are now passing them to the NHS in the hope they will help in the fight against COVID-19.”
With increasing numbers of patients being hospitalised with COVID-19, which can cause severe respiratory problems, Royal Papworth Hospital has expanded its critical care department to more than double its usual size. It has received additional supplies of ventilators from the NHS but – after a check by the hospital’s clinical engineering team – has added the ventilator donated by the Hawking family to its fleet.
Dr Mike Davies, Clinical Director for Respiratory Medicine at Royal Papworth Hospital, said: “It was lovely to hear from the Hawking family again and we are so grateful for them for donating this equipment. We are now extremely busy caring for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 and the support we are receiving from patients, their families and the local community means a great deal.”
Lucy adds: “As a family, the NHS has always played a huge part in our lives. We are fully aware of the dedication and commitment of NHS staff to helping people in need. At this time, we would ask that everyone supports NHS staff in every way possible. We would urge people to take social distancing seriously. We all need to do our bit, whatever that may be.”