Widow warns of flu dangers after beloved husband dies from deadly strain

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 April 2018

Gerry and Kate Harty

Gerry and Kate Harty


The widow of a Weston man whose lungs failed after he caught a killer flu strain says she gave up her life to stay by his bedside during his illness.

Kate Harty now wants to use her husband’s heartbreaking story to raise awareness of the dangers of flu.

She is living with a friend after giving up her home to be with her dying husband, Gerry, during his stay in a London hospital.

Gerry died aged 63 on April 5 following a 10-week health battle caused by flu, which started with chest infection treatment and ended with him on an Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation machine (ECMO), which pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body.

He was first taken to Weston General Hospital on December 29 but was moved to intensive care three weeks later after developing serious breathing difficulties.

A specialist team from Royal Brompton Hospital – the UK’s largest specialist heart and lung medical centre – then arrived to attach him to the ECMO machine and transfer him to London. It is believed to be the first time the machine has had to be used in Weston.

Kate said: “We knew he was unwell but didn’t think by any stretch of the imagination it would be that serious. The Royal Brompton looked at his scans and said he had fibrosis in his chest.

“I was slowly watching him die in front of my eyes.”

Kate decided to head to the hospital, in London’s borough of Kensington and Chelsea, but was forced to give up her home in order to afford to stay.

Doctors eventually gave the devastating news Gerry’s lungs would never work again.

Kate added: “About four weeks ago it became apparent he was not really recovering. I went up to London with a husband, a home and a life – I came back with no husband or home.

“I was very lucky in a way as I had 10 more weeks with Gerry to say the things I wanted to say, but I have given up my life to do that.”

Gerry’s kidneys were donated to two recipients on the night of his death.

Gerry’s funeral will be held at 12.30pm on April 27 at Weston Crematorium in Ebdon Road before a gathering at the Commodore Hotel in Kewstoke.

Click here to donate to Kate’s campaign to raise money for the hospital.

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