South Shields dad set to fly thousands of miles for life-saving 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.
Di and Luke WIlkinson with children Jude and Finn who need to raise urgent funds to return to the UK for Luke's treatment.

A desperately ill South Shields dad is facing a race against time to find a donor for a life-saving liver transplant.

Luke Wilkinson, 37, collapsed while on holiday with his family in Singapore on Sunday and is in urgent need of a liver transplant in the UK.

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.

An expat, Luke moved to Kuala Lumpur, with wife Di and two children, to work as an engineering consultant for an oil and gas company, but became ill five months ago.

Originally from Marsden, Luke contracted several tropical infections while working abroad, and was on medication to treat it.

But on what was supposed to be a relaxing 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 in his home town launched an urgent appeal to raise £50,000 to bring him to the UK for a life-saving transplant, but now the family have been given the good news their insurance has decided to pay for a flight home.

Luke Wilkinson and wife Di are stranded  in Singapore with their chidlren waiting for vital funds to come home for his treatment.

Luke Wilkinson and wife Di are stranded in Singapore with their chidlren waiting for vital funds to come home for his treatment.

His wife Di, 34, spoke to the Gazette from his bedside in Singapore, where she said although he will fly out to the Freeman Hospital Newcastle on Saturday, a donor still needs to be found.

She said: “We have just been told that there is a flight available on Saturday for Luke to fly home.

“The insurance has said they will pay for it, so we are hoping he will still be in a stable condition to be well enough to fly.

“But we are still in need of a donor for the transplant, so we are not out of the woods yet.

The family are stranded  in Singapore waiting for vital funds to come home.

The family are stranded in Singapore waiting for vital funds to come home.

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

“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.”

Di said the cash will 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, who will also travel back to the UK.

She added that it is still unknown whether she will be able to fly back on the air ambulance with her husband, and said she hasn’t left his bedside for over three days.

She added: “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.
“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.

“Is 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.

“The whole ordeal has been terrible, but the one positive thing for the moment is the Luke will be able to fly home on Saturday.

“We don’t know how long Luke will be in hospital but he is currently in a stable condition, so the next hurdle is to keep him stable enough to fly and then find a donor.”

Fundraising effort.

Before the flight was confirmed, friends back in the UK set up a Just Giving Page in an effort to raise the vital funds to bring Luke home.

Family friend Kelly Finn, 37, from Ede Avenue in Marsden, teamed up with pals Natalie Coates and Caroline Duffy to do anything they could for the family.

So far the Just Giving Page has manged to raise £11,491 for the family to pay for the costs of travel and accomodation. Any extra funds will eb given to charity. Mrs Finn, 37, from Ede Avenue in Marsden, said: “It is devastating,” she said.

“Luke is a project manager off shore and moved they moved to Malaysia from South Shields for his job about two years ago.

“He contracted a few tropical infections about four or five months ago which he was on treatment for.

“The family travelled to Siloso Beach in Singapore, for a weekend away to chill and relax, but he collapsed on Monday after having a reaction to the medication, which has caused his liver to fail.”

Luke, a former Harton Technology College pupil, is currently in hospital in Singapore but has been accepted into Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and is now on the transplant list. He has already undergone blood transfusions and a brain scan.

Since he collapsed his wife Di, 34, and their children Jude, five, and Finn, three, have been staying in a nearby hotel while they desperately wait for a donor.

Di’s mum Nataya Brennan and Luke’s mum Christine Elsender, travelled to Singapore from Simonside on Monday to be by their side.

To donate visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/LukeWilkinson

Luke Wilkinson, 37, collapsed while on holiday with his family in Singapore on Monday and is in urgent need of a liver transplant in the UK.

An expat, Luke moved to Kuala Lumpur, with wife Di and two children, to work as an engineering consultant for an oil and gas company, but became ill five months ago.

Originally from Marsden, Luke contracted several tropical infections while working abroad, and was on medication to treat it.

But on what was supposed to be a relaxing break to recover, he collapsed and was diagnosed with liver failure as a result of the medication he was receiving.

Now friends back in his home town have launched an urgent appeal to raise £50,000 to bring him to the UK for a life-saving transplant.

Family friend Kelly Finn, 37, from Ede Avenue in Marsden, said it’s a race against time to raise the funds, after the family were given just days to find a donor and fly back to the UK.

“It is devastating,” she said.

“Luke is a project manager off shore and moved they moved to Malaysia from South Shields for his job about two years ago.

“He contracted a few tropical infections about four or five months ago which he was on treatment for.

“The family travelled to Siloso Beach in Singapore, for a weekend away to chill and relax, but he collapsed on Monday after having a reaction to the medication, which has caused his liver to fail.”

Luke, a former Harton Technology College pupil, is currently in hospital in Singapore but has been accepted into Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and is now on the transplant list. He has already undergone blood transfusiions and a brain scan.

His wife Di, 34, and their children Jude, five, and Finn, three, are staying in a nearby hotel while they wait for the vital funds to bring Luke home on an air ambulance while they desperately wait for a donor.

So far £11,491 has been raised on a Just Giving Page.

Mrs Finn added: “I have been friends with Di for 16 years and she is frantic. Her mum Nataya Brennan and Luke’s mum Christine Elsender, travelled to Singapore from Simonside on Monday to be by their side.

“We are all so worried and desperately need help to raise funds to get him home.

“Natalie Coates, Caroline Duffy and I, are all family friends and we are doing everything we can to get him back here.

“The funds so far have been amazing, but if you can, please give generously, as every minute is critical.”

To donate visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/LukeWilkinson