A NORTHERN Irish couple who had been married 48 years died within 12 hours of one another after contracting coronavirus.
Owen and Bredge Ward, both 69, passed away Altnagelvin Hospital in Co Derry on Tuesday.
The couple from Strabane in Co Tyrone leave behind six children and nine grandchildren who had been left devastated by the deadly virus.
While Owen and Bredge’s son Martin was by his dad’s side during his final moments, his siblings were saying goodbye to their beloved mum at a local funeral home.
A nurse in Co Galway, Martin held his dad Owen’s hand as he died.
After seeing Covid-19 devastate his own family, he is urging the public to stick to the health advice concerning coronavirus to ensure others don’t suffer the same heartbreak.
“This is what the disease does – it can be mild or it can devastate lives,” he told BBC NI.
Ward went on to highlight the importance of everyone sticking to the rules, even if they aren’t vulnerable themselves or living with someone in that category.
“The same message that we need to get across is just look after people, adhere to the guidelines and care about other people,” he said.
He went on to describe the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding the death of his parents who, at various points, had appeared to be improving before finally succumbing to the virus.
“Within hours, my mum, who was improving, just went downhill. Maybe it was the shock,” he said.
“Fast forward a week and my father was improving and my mother was getting worse.
“She passed away yesterday, then my father, from a position where he was getting better, just completely collapsed and within a couple of hours of my mother dying, he passed away too.”
He continued: “Even though they were sedated and had pain relief and loving care from the staff at Altnagelvin Hospital, both of them just completely collapsed within a couple of hours.
“That’s just how it is. That’s the hurt and suffering that this caused to different families and the same message that we need to get across is just look after people, adhere to the guidelines and care about other people.”