Kimberley Finlayson – Gone but not forgotten online
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Kimberley Finlayson

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“It’s such a hollow feeling,” Ken Finlayson tells BuzzFeed News over the phone from his home near Hertford, Hertfordshire.

“And it’s exacerbated by the isolation so I can’t lose myself in the world because I can’t go anywhere, so I’m just trapped in our room with all of our things.”

When Finlayson left for Bali to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company he cofounded with his wife, Kimberley, the idea he might not return with her by his side was unthinkable.

The couple had been in Bali when they had dreamt up a business project that would occupy them over the next quarter of a century — it would go on to become a company called FMC, a leader in the UK’s dental communications industry.

And it was on that same Indonesian island that Kimberley died in the early hours of Wednesday, March 11, after becoming ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. She was 52 years old. On Feb. 29, Ken had flown out to meet her in Bali. “We thought it was a lovely thing to meet there again,” he said.

“When she arrived to see me [at the airport in Bali], she was already ill. She had a temperature, and she was really quite ill with flu symptoms,” recalled Finlayson.

“She was ill from the second she arrived so she must have been ill from when she was in London — she didn’t pick anything up in Bali, she was already sick when I saw her.

“The thing is neither of us realized she had anything serious. We just thought she had a bad cold or something like that.”

When Kimberley’s symptoms began to get progressively worse, she was admitted to a private hospital on March 3. Due to ongoing fears about the spread of the coronavirus, Finlayson said medical staff were told by the government to move them to a public hospital on March 9, a facility he described as “grueling” and “very basic.”

“We stayed in the hospital where we were both incarcerated together in isolation,” he added.

With Kimberley’s symptoms still showing no signs of subsiding, medical staff decided to perform an intubation — a process by which a tube is inserted through the patient’s mouth and into their airways to assist with breathing.

Finlayson claims that she wasn’t operated on properly and that after the procedure failed, she was “too weak” to survive a second operation.

He said he had a “few seconds” with Kimberley before she underwent the second operation.

“She told me she loved me...we held hands and then I kissed her,” he said.

“The doctors never spoke to me about what went wrong. The communication between me, Kimberley, and all the medical team in Bali was so poor I didn't even know what happened. They don’t communicate properly, and when the second operation didn’t work, they basically just left and I never saw them ever again.” The little closure that Finlayson received from the hospital came in the form of some paperwork handed to him five days after Kimberley’s death, when he was finally discharged.

“I could hardly read it but because it was mostly in Indonesian, but I was so happy to get out of there myself I just took the paperwork [...] and left,” he said.

Finlayson believes that his wife would have had a better chance of surviving the virus if she had been treated in the UK.