A grief-stricken family have told of their heartache after a ‘healthy’ mum and son died within seven hours of each other after contracting coronavirus.
Mark Wakefield, aged 53, and his mother Dorothy Wakefield, aged 79, lost their fight against the killer virus on Saturday (November 7).
At one point Dorothy appeared to be well enough to be discharged only for her to be struck down with pneumonia.
The former pottery worker passed away at 4am, while dad-of-one Mark – who had been in an induced coma for a week – died shortly before 11am.
Now Emily Murrell – the granddaughter of Dorothy and niece of Mark – is calling on people to take the pandemic seriously after it left her family in pieces within the space of just a few days.
The 25-year-old said: “A lot of people think covid’s not real or that it just takes it out of you and then you get better.
“When my nan and uncle went to hospital they didn’t think they would never be coming home again.
“Granted, a lot of people do get over it but that’s not always the case. It’s so, so dangerous.
“Mark was following all the social distancing guidelines, he was taking precautions. For all we know, he may have got this in the supermarket.
“Friends of my uncle have said they were sceptical about covid until he died. It’s been a real eye-opener.”
The family’s nightmare started last month when Mark – who was a full-time carer for Dorothy – suddenly lost his sense of taste and smell.
Emily added: “I was at work and mum rang to say Mark had these symptoms. He’d got a home test kit but he’d done it wrong and needed another one.
“He was coughing that badly and he was struggling for breath so he rang the ambulance.
“Nan wasn’t too bad at this stage but the paramedics ended up taking her to hospital too. They both had tests which confirmed they had it.
“Mark wasn’t doing very well and he needed to be put on oxygen and in a matter of days he ended up on critical care. He couldn’t breathe by himself and his oxygen levels kept dropping. He had to be drip fed.
“He was trying to stay in good spirits, and told us he was going to fight it. He kept saying he couldn’t wait to come home and have a curry. We tried to keep it lighthearted.
“But he just kept getting worse and he needed a CPAP machine. He was saying that it was really hurting. The covid was putting so much stress on his body.
“There just wasn’t any improvement so they decided to put him in a coma. I was with my mum as we’re in a bubble and we just sat there and cried.
“Nan was on a different ward and didn’t know how bad Mark was because we didn’t want to make it any worse for her. She was asking if she could record a message for him.
“It was just horrible, it didn’t seem real.
“We then got a call from nan’s ward to say that she was being moved to a respiratory ward and she was put on a CPAP machine.
“We’re only a small family and we just kept thinking ‘we can’t lose them both’.
“Mum went up to the hospital at midnight to see nan. She was telling her how it was all going to be OK and that we all loved her. I wanted to go too but I couldn’t afford to take the time off work.
“Mum went home but then rang me at 5am to say nan had gone. She just couldn’t fight anymore. She just decided that she was going.
“I offered to go and be with mum but she just wanted to get some sleep. Then at 11am we got the news about Mark.
“He’d been in a coma for a week and the treatment just wasn’t working.
“We can’t believe they both went in the space of a few hours.
“Our only comfort is that they both went together so will never be apart.”
Want a free daily bulletin which includes all the latest Covid-19 news – plus breaking news alerts direct to your inbox? Then sign up to our email newsletter service by clicking here.
Want to know more before you sign up? Click here.
Decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails? No problem – you can just follow the unsubscribe link.
The pair also leave behind Dorothy’s daughter and Mark’s sister, Amanda Murrell, aged 54, and Mark’s 15-year-old daughter Lily Sheldon.
Paying tribute to her loved-ones, Emily added: “My uncle was always out and about. He was really sociable and had so many friends.
“He was so bubbly, all he wanted to do was make people laugh. He was a massive personality.
“He loved horse racing, going fishing and a drink in The Commercial.
“He loved his food and was a big lad but had no underlying health problems. It just shows you covid can happen to anyone.
“My nan suffered from water infections but was otherwise healthy for her age.
“She was just so sweet, she had time for everyone. She was just a lovely lady. She always had a smile on her face and would do anything for anybody.”
A GoFundMe page has now been set up to support the family with £4,000 donated in three days.
Emily added: “We are so grateful to everyone who has donated. We are just so overwhelmed. Mark had nothing in place so this money has lifted a weight off our shoulders.
“We can’t everyone enough.”
A joint funeral will take place on November 27 at 1.30pm and will see the two hearses driven round Stoke including a drive-by of the Commercial Inn.
There will also be a video link to the service.
To support the appeal, click here.