LONDON // A nationwide hunt was under way across Britain last night for a male nurse who has disappeared in the middle of a clinical drug trial and who could have just hours to live. Matthew Lloyd, 35, was among a group of eight volunteers infected with a particularly virulent strain of malaria last month.
They were due to return to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford last Thursday to receive the anti-malarial drug that the hospital is testing. However, the day before the second - and crucial - part of the trial, Mr Lloyd phoned his manager at Southampton General Hospital, where he works, saying he was ill. Then he disappeared from his fourth-floor apartment in the port town. When Oxford clinicians became concerned over his failure to turn up for treatment, they contacted police in Southampton who broke down the door of Mr Lloyd's home, only to find it empty.
By tracing his mobile phone calls and ATM withdrawals over recent days, they have tracked him to London, Milton Keynes and Birmingham. He has made no attempt to contact the Oxford hospital. Police said yesterday that he could have only 24 hours to live unless anti-malarial drugs were administered. 'To put it bluntly, if he has not received medical attention it will be fatal," Det Insp Becky Riggs, from Hampshire Constabulary, said.
"We are extremely concerned for Mr Lloyd's wellbeing. I urge him in the strongest possible terms to attend a hospital or visit the nearest doctors' surgery. "Every police officer in the county is looking for him and officers in other counties have also been informed." Yesterday afternoon, Mr Lloyd's mother, Doreen Holland, 64, made an emotional appeal for her son to come forward. Comforted by her husband Michael, 74, and daughter Clare, 31, Mrs Holland wept openly as she read an appeal at police headquarters in Southampton, begging her son to seek medical help.
Describing her son as "a responsible, ambitious and focused man", she said that his disappearance was out of character. "We regularly speak to him on the phone, by text and by e-mail, and we knew he was taking part in these clinical trials," she said. "We were totally shocked to find out that he had not turned up to his appointment in Oxford on October 7. It is not like him to take on a project and not follow it through."
She said he was excited about taking part in the trials. "He was doing this as a way of getting more experience and a means of furthering his career as a nurse." Mrs Holland, who lives in Somerset, appealed to people to look for her son. "Matthew, if you are out there and you are unwell, then please seek medical attention and ring the police or get someone to ring the police and tell us where you are," she begged.
"We all care about you. We want you back safe and sound." Det Insp Dave Jackson added: "Our concerns for Matthew's health are increasing because he needs urgent medication, which he does not have with him." A spokesman for the John Radcliffe said Mr Lloyd did not pose a health risk to anyone but himself.