Widow, 75, describes final words to husband of 38 years

‘I said goodbye through a nurse on the phone’: Widow, 75, describes final words to husband of 38 years hours before he died from coronavirus despite showing no symptoms

  • Pat Pearce, 75, wasn’t able to speak to her husband to say goodbye last month
  • Allan, 72, had shown no symptoms of coronavirus except a burning in his chest 
  • He died on the morning of April 5, just hours after being rushed into hospital
  • The former electrician’s mate collapsed in the hallway of their Penarth bungalow 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A widow was forced to say goodbye to her dying husband by leaving a message with a nurse over the phone – after he tested positive with coronavirus despite having no symptoms.

Pat Pearce, 75, asked a nurse to tell Allan, her partner of 38 years, she was sorry she couldn’t be with him and that she ‘loved him very much’ as he lay dying in the Covid-19 ward at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

The 72-year-old former electrician’s mate had shown no prior symptoms of the virus when he started suffering from what he thought was heartburn on Friday, April 3. 

Just hours after the pain began Pat heard a ‘huge thud’ and found Allan ‘in a terrible mess’ in the hallway of their bungalow in Penarth.

‘He was conscious but couldn’t talk, only grunt. So I kept him comfortable the best I could and called 999 again,’ she said.

Pat Pearce (pictured), 75, asked a nurse to tell Allan, her partner of 38 years, she was sorry she couldn’t be with him and that she ‘loved him very much’ as he lay dying in the Covid-19 ward at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff

In the early hours of Saturday, April 4, Allan was brought into hospital in an ambulance but by 5.30am a doctor called to tell Pat her husband’s organs were breaking down and he wouldn’t last until Monday.

The retired stock room worker said: ‘I asked one of the nurses there to tell him I was sorry I couldn’t be with him and that I loved him very much.’

Now Pat wonders if her husband could have been saved had the ambulance arrived sooner.

‘It was a cold, damp night and he was only in his boxer shorts with a dressing gown draped round his shoulders,’ she said. 

‘I just can’t help wondering if things might have been different had the ambulance not taken so long to turn up.’ 

At 6pm the day before, Pat called the doctor’s surgery and was told to call 999 because it was likely Allan, who was fitted with a pacemaker in 2019 and suffered from skeletal muscle weakness, was having an angina attack.  

In fact Pat didn’t even consider the possibility of coronavirus because Allan had only left the house once since lockdown began on March 23. 

The 72-year-old former electrician’s mate (right) had shown no prior symptoms of the virus when he started suffering from what he thought was heartburn on Friday, April 3. Pictured, the couple on their wedding day in 1982

‘We’d been self-isolating for weeks and he hadn’t appeared ill at all, apart from complaining about a touch of heartburn,’ she said. 

‘I just don’t get how he could have caught it – other than popping to the shop one time to get the daily paper neither of us have left the house for ages. He didn’t even go into the garden during all the recent warm weather.’

By 11.15am on the day Allan arrived at hospital he passed away and Pat is struggling to come to terms with his sudden death.

‘I’m alone in the house, surrounded by all his stuff and his clothes still hanging up, and it just feels surreal,’ she said.

Allan’s body was cremated and Pat hopes she will soon be able to scatter his ashes in one of their favourite holiday destinations.  

‘We both loved it over in Corfu,’ she said. ‘We’ve been going there for more than 20 years and were booked to fly out there again about now. So I’m hoping when all this is over I’ll be able to visit the place one last time and say my goodbyes properly.’

By the early hours of Saturday, April 4, Allan had been brought into hospital in an ambulance and by 5.30am a doctor called to tell Pat (pictured outside their home) her husband’s organs were breaking down and he wouldn’t survive until Monday

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board recommended Pat for their bereavement service to help her cope with her husband’s death.

They said: ‘Our thoughts are with Mrs Pearce and her family at this difficult time. 

‘Our bereavement service has been in contact with Mrs Pearce as per our usual practice, but we would encourage her to please contact our patient experience team who will be able to discuss this further with her, and direct her to the available support.’

Lee Brookes, the director of operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, hoped to speak to Mrs Peace so they can explain why the ambulance took so long to get to their home last month.

He said: ‘We were saddened to hear the news about Mr Pearce’s passing and would like to extend our condolences to Mrs Pearce and the wider family. 

‘We understand that Mrs Pearce will have questions about our response on that evening and would encourage contact with us directly so that we can understand the experience further and answer those questions.’        

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