Family of South Shields liver transplant dad: “We’re just praying for a donor”

Di and Luke Wilkinson with children Jude and Finn who need to raise urgent funds to return to the UK for Luke's treatment.
Di and Luke Wilkinson with children Jude and Finn who need to raise urgent funds to return to the UK for Luke's treatment.
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The family and friends of a desperately ill South Tyneside father say they are just praying for a liver donor to be found after he collapsed on holiday.

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

Di and Luke Wilkinson need to raise urgent funds to return to the UK for Luke's treatment.

Di and Luke Wilkinson need to raise urgent funds to return to the UK for Luke's treatment.

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 he 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.

While on what was supposed to be a 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 admitted to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and is now on the transplant list with wife Di by his side.

Brooke Ludford, Di’s sister-in-law, said it was a waiting game to see when Mr Wilkinson would be able to get his liver transplant.

He said: “He has landed safely and is in critical care at the Freeman where they are running tests on him. He is in a stable condition and Di is over the moon that they have got there safely.

“But it is just a waiting game now. We are all praying for a donor.”

Family friend Kelly Finn, 37, from Ede Avenue in Marsden, who teamed up with pals Natalie Coates and Caroline Duffy help the couple, said everything seems positive, but a donor is urgently needed.

She said: “I have had a couple of messages from Luke’s wife Di saying that Luke has had blood tests which they look really good, so everything seems positive.

“Di has been camped at the hospital with him over night and we’re all just praying for a donor now.”

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.”