Paul O'Grady reveals he almost died after playing with wounded street dogs

Maya Oppenheim
The entertainer says he was kept in hospital overnight where he was given saline and antibiotics

TV presenter Paul O’Grady has said he almost died after contracting a virus while making his new ITV documentary For the Love of Dogs in India.

The 62-year-old said it was his own fault he had renal failure after playing with wounded street dogs as he had been advised to steer clear of the streets in Delhi.

"But I was lying in the gutter with these two gorgeous little puppies," he told The Mirror.

"I'm feeding them by hand and flicking maggots out of a rat bite, and of course I must have touched my mouth or my face – you forget. When you work with animals, you're not squeamish.

“At five o’clock in the morning I’m still vomiting. Ten o’clock at night, I’m still at it. They called the doctor and he said you’re going in because you’re so dehydrated.

"When I got in there, they said your white blood cells are going berserk, you’re heading for renal failure.”

The entertainer, who gained fame for his comedic drag queen character "Lily Savage", said he was kept in hospital overnight where he was given saline and antibiotics. He said he did not even remember going to hospital because his temperature was so high, adding he felt “delirious”.

In spite of the ordeal O’Grady was keen to get back to work.

“They wanted to keep me in for a couple more days, but I said ‘I’m off’,” he said. “I wanted to get back to work. I felt a bit doddery at first, especially being back to the heat and the pollution.”

In a similar vein, getting ill has not put him off returning to Delhi and he is eager to return to Friendicoes animal sanctuary and shelter there. "It doesn't faze me at all to go back. India is just alive," he said.

Asked if he will be more careful when he goes back to India, he quipped: "Probably not. I think I've got about four lives left, that's loads."

O'Grady has received a slew of awards which include honorary degrees and an MBE in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment.

For the Love of Dogs: India airs on ITV on 26 April at 8.30pm