Widow sets up sup­port group for griev­ing fam­i­lies

MOVE FOL­LOWS HUS­BAND’S DEATH

Sunday Sun - - News - By Lisa Hutchin­son Re­porter lisa.hutchin­son@ncjme­dia.co.uk

THE griev­ing wife of dot­ing dad Luke Wilkin­son has told how she has set up a group for wid­ows and heart­bro­ken chil­dren fol­low­ing the death of her hus­band after be­ing flown back for Sin­ga­pore when suf­fer­ing from liver fail­ure.

And, after his in­quest, she told how ev­ery day is a strug­gle, but that the help from oth­ers who have lost their loved ones is help­ing her pull through.

Luke’s plight pulled on the heart­strings of his fam­ily and friends, who raised thou­sands of pounds to fly him home from south­ern Malaysia for a pos­si­ble liver trans­plant.

But Luke, orig­i­nally from Mars­den in South Shields, died on Oc­to­ber 5 last year at New­cas­tle’s Free­man Hos­pi­tal.

The 37-year-old engi­neer­ing con­sul­tant col­lapsed while on hol­i­day in Sin­ga­pore with his wife Di, 34, and chil­dren Jude, six, and Finn, four, last year.

The fam­ily had moved to Kuala Lumpur when Luke took a job at an oil and gas com­pany five months be­fore he fell ill. He had con­tracted sev­eral in­fec­tions while work­ing abroad and was on med­i­ca­tion to treat them.

But, on what was sup­posed to be a re­lax­ing break at the Siloso Beach Re­sort, he col­lapsed – and was di­ag­nosed with liver fail­ure.

Friends back home launched an ap­peal to raise cash to bring him to the UK, but were later told the fam­ily’s in­surance would pay for a flight home.

More than £18,000 was raised and wife Di told how the funds raised paid for the chil­dren’s flights and their par­ents’, ex­tra stay, meals, toi­letries and clothes while stuck in Sin­ga­pore.

“Any­thing left will be do­nated to the Free­man’s trans­plant unit to help other fam­i­lies,” Di said at the time.

While in Sin­ga­pore, for­mer Har­ton Tech­nol­ogy Col­lege pupil Luke had been ac­cepted into the Free­man with the con- sider­a­tion of a trans­plant. But at his in­quest held in New­cas­tle on Fri­day, pathol­o­gist Dr Nigel Cooper said his ex­am­i­na­tion showed parts of Luke’s ma­jor or­gans had died and had fun­gal, bac­te­rial and vi­ral in­fec­tion.

And, after 33 years in his po­si­tion, said: “I have never seen more wide­spread multi-in­fec­tions in one body”.

He put Luke’s death down to mul­ti­or­gan fail­ure due to the large spread of vi­ral and fun­gal in­fec­tions af­fect­ing his vi­tal or­gans.

He said Luke’s im­mune sys­tem was not as ac­tive as nor­mal due to the med­i­ca­tion he was on.

The in­quest heard that, while Luke was in the Free­man Hos­pi­tal, he had a biopsy to his liver which caused a bleed which led to him need­ing a blood trans­fu­sion.

How­ever, Steven Mas­son, a con­sul­tant in liver dis­ease and liver trans­plant, said the biopsy “con­firmed the liver was in a very un­healthy state”.

After the in­quest, his wife Di told how she set up the group for wid­ows called Love From Luke Be­reave­ment Group.

“Ev­ery day is dif­fi­cult,” said Di, who moved back to South Shields after Luke’s death. “I have a good sup­port of wid­ows around me and they say the first year is the worst. I want to get through this year.”

She added: “I had been search­ing for ways to help my two boys through this time of grief and loss. I thought one on one coun­cil ses­sions would be a lit­tle daunt­ing for my boys and have searched for group ses­sions and ther­apy with lit­tle luck. There­fore, I de­cided to set up our own.

“It gives the chance for other chil­dren in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions to get to­gether, play, talk openly and con­fide in one an­other.

“Also, for the par­ents and rel­a­tives, they can get to­gether and help one an­other.”

Di holds her free ses­sions for wid­ows on the last Mon­day of ev­ery month from 5.30pm un­til 7pm, at Lord Bly­ton Pri­mary School in Si­mon­side, South Shields.

LEWIS YIM

Luke Wilkin­son with wife Di and sons Jude and Finn

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