South Shields man back in the UK after being struck down by tropical diseases

Di and Luke Wilkinson
Di and Luke Wilkinson
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A seriously ill South Shields dad has completed the first leg of his trip home after collapsing on holiday.

Luke Wilkinson, from Marsden, was on holiday with his family in Singapore when his condition suddenly deteriorated.

All I have had is a message from the family to say that he is back in the UK

Kelly Flynn

Thirty-seven-year-old Luke, wife Di and children Jude, five, and Finn, three, have been living in Kuala Lumpur for the last two years, where Luke works as an engineering consultant with a gas and oil firm.

He contracted several tropical infections while working abroad, for which he had been undergoing treatment.

But while on what was supposed to be a relaxing family break at the Siloso Beach Resort in Singapore to recover, he collapsed and was diagnosed with liver failure as a result of the medication he was receiving.

Friends back home initially launched an urgent appeal to raise £50,000 to bring him to the UK for a life-saving transplant, before news that the flight would be covered by the couple’s holiday insurance.

The former Harton Technology College pupil has been accepted into Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and is now on the transplant list.

Family friend Kelly Finn, 37, from Ede Avenue in Marsden, who teamed up with pals Natalie Coates and Caroline Duffy help the couple, said she knew Luke was back in the UK but was still awaiting confirmation of his arrival in Newcastle.

“All I have had is a message from the family to say that he is back in the UK,” she said.

Di, 34, spoke to the Gazette before the family set off to fly home and spoke of their gratitude for all the kindness that had been shown.

“People have been so good to us raising the funds and we really appreciate it,” she said.

“Although we don’t need the £50,000 anymore as the insurance is paying for the flight, and the transplant will be on the NHS, we still need the money that has been donated to pay for all the additional costs.”

The cash would pay for the family’s flights home, their extended stay in the hotel while Luke is in hospital as well as food and clothes for the children.

“It has been a big shock. The worst thing was on Sunday night when he got up to go to the toilet and just collapsed,” she said.

“I didn’t even know a number for an ambulance so had to press every button on the hotel phone to connect to reception.

“The kids were upset, so I was trying to reassure them and keep everything together at the same time.

“It has been a roller coaster, I have been breaking down crying in the hospital and have had to get people back in the UK to get information for me.

Di’s mum Nataya Brennan and Luke’s mum Christine Elsender travelled to Singapore on Monday.