Derek Draper’s smiling return home from hospital yesterday gave fresh hope to his family and friends today – three years after his body was first ravaged by Covid-19 and sepsis.
Kate Garraway, 55, shared a beaming family snap in their London garden on Sunday, and Mr Draper was grinning with his wife and their children Darcey, 17, and Billy, 13.
Derek, 55, looked happy and healthier in the photo that will have brought joy to his family and many who have followed his health battle that saw him become the longest surviving hospital patient with coronavirus in the UK.
Kate revealed that Derek was back in hospital last week after an emotional night at the 02 Arena in Greenwich where he met Sir Elton John and the star dedicated a song to them. But happily, he is back home again.
The author and former lobbyist was left close to death on several occasions since he caught Covid at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, most likely at the Prince’s Trust Awards also attended by King Charles, then the Prince of Wales.
He is confined to a wheelchair and has been learning to speak again – but requires 24/7 care at home.
Home at last: Kate Garraway revealed Derek Draper is back from hospital after sharing a beaming family snap on Sunday where husband looked in better health
Derek Draper became the longest-suffering coronavirus patient in the UK after spending 13 months in hospital, and remains very ill
Kate and Derek pictured together in 2019, before he fell ill
Kate revealed at the time she and the now monarch had got ‘relatively close’ at the Prince’s Trust Awards on March 11 – Charles was diagnosed with coronavirus in mid-March.
She said: ‘Around the 29/30 March, I came home and said [to Derek] “god you look ill”.
‘He said he had a headache, numbness in his right hand, and was struggling to breathe,
‘I rang Dr Hilary (Jones) and tried to get through, he talked to Derek. He said put me back on, I think you need to call an ambulance’.
Derek was taken into hospital on March 30 and remained in an unresponsive condition, later entering a coma.
Days later Kate and her children isolated at home after she displayed ‘mild symptoms’.
She said at the time: ‘Derek remains in intensive care and is still very ill. I’m afraid it remains an excruciatingly worrying time.
‘I’m afraid he is still in a deeply critical condition, but he is still here, which means there is hope.’
The following month his health deteriorated further.
Kate said at the time: ‘The journey for me and my family seems to be far from over as every day my heart sinks as I learn new and devastating ways this virus has more battles for Derek to fight.
‘But he is still HERE & so there is still hope.’
That month, Kate and her family took part in the final clap for carers.
She said: ‘I’ll never give up on that because Derek’s the love of my life but at the same time I have absolute uncertainty’.
On June 5 2020, Kate revealed Derek is now free from coronavirus but continues to fight against the damage inflicted on his body and a month later she revealed Derek had woken from his coma but he remains in a serious yet critical condition.
Three days later she announced she would be returning to GMB, after being urged by doctors to ‘get on with life’ during Derek’s recovery.
She added that Derek had ‘opened his eyes’ after waking from his coma, but has been told his recovery could take years.
The couple had ventured from their North London home with their children to watch Elton on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour at the O2 arena on Monday
Derek has been unwell with long COVID since 2020 and Jake looked after him when he first came out of hospital. Pictured: Derek with his carer Jake
Together again: It comes after Kate revealed on late on Wednesday that Derek was once receiving care in hospital amid the devastating impact of contacting Covid-19
Working hard: The television host could be seen planting a tree in the family’s rarely seen front garden.
Tragically, due to the pandemic, Kate revealed she’d paid an ‘extra emotional’ first visit to Derek, and admitted she’s ‘frustrated’ by his slow progress. He had been in hospital for three months by then.
And as GMB viewers asked for updates on his condition, she reassured them that Derek was ‘still with us,’ but it was ‘a waiting game.’
Days later, on August 19, Kate revealed she celebrated Derek’s birthday with their two children, and described the day as ‘challenging’ for her family.
At the end of September, Derek became the longest surviving patient with coronavirus after spending 184 days in and out of intensive care, where he lost eight stone.
And in more good news, a month later, Derek spoke for the first time in seven months, saying the word ‘pain’ to his wife, who watched on ‘in tears’ over FaceTime.
For the first time he no longer needed a ventilator to breathe.
On their first Christmas apart, Kate visited him on Christmas Day but the festive period was ‘calamitous’. Their house was flooded and she struggled to get a food delivery slot until her pal Emma Willis stepped in to help.
Kate reveals she and her children got to visit Derek in hospital over the Christmas period, and it was the first time her family had seen him since he was hospitalised.
And 13 months after he went to hospital, Kate revealed that Derek was finally allowed to leave in April 2021, but needed round-the-clock care at home.
She said that despite now being home with his family, his communication abilities were ‘minimal’ and he ‘couldn’t really move’.
And during an appearance on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, Kate revealed that Derek had said ‘I love you’ for the first time.
After celebrating Christmas, Derek was also pictured in a wheelchair during a trip to the pantomime with his family.
In the new year Kate offered a glimpse into the daily struggles of looking after her husband amid his battle with long Covid in the documentary Caring For Derek
She also revealed that Derek would die within three days if he was left alone to care for himself.
On July 6 2022, Kate revealed that Derek had been re-admitted to hospital after suffering a ‘downturn,’ and in a later interview said she takes things ‘day by day.’
On July 20, it was reported that Kate had pulled out of hosting Good Morning Britain to be at Derek’s bedside after he took a ‘very serious’ turn for the worse.
Recalling the traumatic day, the 55-year-old ITV star told The Sun: ‘At one point Derek said to me, “This is it, this time. I am gone.” It was just terrifying.
‘His sepsis was gut-wrenching for all of us because it had gone undiagnosed until the point where it was about to take his life away again.’
In January 2023 Kate Garraway became overwhelmed as she confronted former health secretary Matt Hancock over his handling of the pandemic and his decision to go on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.
Mr Hancock was forced to resign in June 2021 when he was caught flouting his own social distancing guidance by kissing Gina Coladangelo – who he hired with taxpayers’ money.
Describing public anger towards him, Kate added of his decision to appear on I’m a Celebrity: ‘This gives the impression you still don’t get why they are cross. You still don’t get why people are upset. They want to hold you to more account.’ Mr Hancock replied: ‘I get all that. I really do. I really feel it’.
Kate Garraway revealed the terrifying time last summer where her husband, Derek Draper fell ill with sepsis, which almost killed him
Derek receives round-the-clock care at home, funded by Kate
Ms Garraway asked him if he understood the anger that people felt towards him, especially those separated by loved ones who were in hospital.
She then became tearful and looked up as she spoke about Derek, who has been unwell for approaching three years.
‘I suppose the problem is you were the Health Secretary. Thousands of children couldn’t see people that they loved,’ she said of visiting restrictions in the NHS for so long under his stewardship.
However, following the long period of hospitalisation, his body was ravaged with various crippling conditions and he now remains confined to a bed and wheelchair.
While Derek’s long-term chance of recovery is still not known, the ‘utter devastation’ to his body is undeniable.
The Good Morning host admitted that there ‘is no end point’ to his care and her new way of life can be ‘exhausting’ for those around her.
Mr Draper is one of the UK’s longest-suffering patients of Covid after being admitted to hospital with the virus in March 2020, only returning to the family’s London home in April 2021, where he receives round-the-clock care.
She told host Lorraine Kelly: ‘The thing is, when it’s a long battle like with Derek, there’s no end point and it can be exhausting for the people around me too. I know sometimes people say ‘oh she’s talking about that again’ but what I’ve learnt is you only really know what it feels like when you’re in it.
‘And now I get contacted by thousands and thousands of people who make me feel less alone.’
Kate revealed last Wednesday that Derek was once again receiving care in hospital as he continues to battle the devastating impact of contacting Covid-19.
But he is back home again, much to their relief.
In one Instagram snap yesterday, Kate and Derek smiled for the camera while their children and other family members cheekily posed behind.
The television host could then be seen planting a tree.
She captioned the photos: ‘Funny how it was just grandad & I for the digging & planting & then suddenly everyone appears when up!!’
‘Crowning a very special weekend with the Drapers (Aunty Sue & grandma you are here in spirit) by planting a magnolia tree for #earthday. Happy Sunday everyone xxx’.
GMB’s Susanna Reid gushed: ‘Everything about these [photos] is gorgeous’.
The Smooth Radio presenter has had to spend ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ adapting the family home in London for Derek, which included the installation of ramps, a downstairs wet room and a makeshift downstairs bedroom.
The process of giving at-home care for Derek has been completely self-funded and Kate insists that they have not had any ‘special treatment’ from the NHS or ‘bypassed waiting lists’ due to her celebrity status.
She said: ‘Of course, it’s been tough financially. As anyone with a loved one who is seriously ill knows, the costs go through the roof in so many ways.
‘You have to make changes to your home and it affects your ability to work. I had to take long periods off when Derek was first sick, and of course it affects the overall income for the family as he can no longer work.’
Kate Garraway became tearful as she grilled Matt Hancock on the pandemic on GMB today
It comes after Kate shared the emotional moment Sir Elton John dedicated a song to her and Derek who he described as an ‘inspiring couple’.
The pair had ventured from their North London home alongside their children to watch Elton on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour at the O2 arena on Monday.
Kate, 55, previously told how the 76-year-old singer had surprised them with a shoutout, dedicating his hit Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me to them.
She has now shared the special footage of the tribute song, while revealing that Derek was almost ‘too weak to attend’.
Posting on Instagram late on Wednesday evening to her 1.1 million followers, Kate wrote: ‘… so this was a moment.
‘Finally found someone who had actually filmed it rather than just burst into joyous tears as we did!!!
‘Still can’t quite believe we were there at all – even hours before we feared Derek would be too weak – but he was determined.
‘Yes Derek has been back in hospital this week & yes there’s such a long road ahead but #eltonjohn & @davidfurnish you gave the kids & Derek a moment that we will never forget and has lifted their spirits again to feel anything is possible.’
She continued, thanking Sir Elton’s team: ‘Thank you for your inspiring music and huge heart.
‘Thank you too to everyone else who made the impossible possible. All the carers, the #rocketentertainment team , the gang @theo2london who work so hard to make concerts like this accessible & @addisonleecabs who worked hard to find suitable transport. We are bursting with gratitude xxx’
The clip revealed the hitmaker’s touching and thoughtful words before he began to sing.
Sir Elton said: ‘They’re inspiring. They’ve never given up and I’m so thrilled they’re here, I can’t believe they are here.
‘I want to dedicate this song to the people I mentioned before, but especially to you guys.’