Widow sets up support group for grieving families
MOVE FOLLOWS HUSBAND’S DEATH
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.
Luke Wilkinson with wife Di and sons Jude and Finn