AN OIL worker has spoken of how he heard his wife die during a telephone conversation while she was almost 8,000 miles away.
Darron Smith, 35, was on a rig off Indonesia when his wife Anna, 37, lost her battle with a previously undiagnosed cardiac condition. She suffered two heart attacks.
He was on the phone to her mother on Shetland, where the couple lived with four-year-old daughter Ava.
He said: “I take comfort in being with Anna in her last moments – even if it was on the phone and I was thousands of miles away. I heard my mum, Carolyn, say ‘Is she gone?’ and the medical team confirm it.
“It was distressing, but comforting to be there, albeit thousands of miles away at the end of the phone.”
It took Mr Smith five flights and more than two days to get back home to Shetland after his wife’s death on 23 January.
“I had a message from my mother to call home, I was working offshore Indonesia, the call was to be the worst news one could ever receive,” he said.
“Anna took ill and within 24 hours passed away after two cardiac arrests. She was a young mother with everything to live for, she was fit and looked after herself.”
He added: “Ava is coping much better than me at times, but children that age have a remarkable way of speaking up and stating what’s happened.”
The dental nurse and carer had a ruptured valve in her heart, the family believe. Her death has struck a chord with hundreds of friends, family and others who have raised £14,000 to help other cardiac patients.
A team of heart specialists had been flown to Shetland’s Gilbert Bain Hospital ready to transport her to a unit on the mainland but she died before they were able to stabilise her for transfer.
Mr Smith said: “Anna became ill so quickly they had to put her into an induced coma to prepare her for surgery.
“Every hospital doctor on Shetland had been put on alert to assist if needed.
“But she deteriorated so quickly she didn’t make it to the operating table.
“One of the main doctors told me that it was the first time he had seen this happen in more than 30 years in the job.”
The previously healthy young mother died within hours of being admitted to hospital.
Mr Smith is now making memory boxes to help Ava remember her mother when she grows up. A total of £14,000 has been donated to the British Heart Foundation in just a few days through a JustGiving fundraising page set up online.
“I never believed for a moment how much would be raised,” Mr Smith said. “Everyone will have been touched in some way by a heart condition, either personally or by a relative’s experience. Support has been overwhelming to an extent we never imagined.”
The couple met after Darron saw Anna in a car park in Shetland’s capital, Lerwick, back in April 2003.
“She looked gorgeous and I came up with an excuse to approach her and chat. My life changed from then because she was such a lovely, vibrant person who became a devoted wife and mum.”
Now with his future changed so painfully, Darron is wondering what he is going to do work-wise with the rest of life.
“I have a lovely wee daughter to raise,” he added. “Hopefully, I will find something which allows me to earn a living and be a dad at the same time. But it’s early days and Anna has only been gone a month.
“I know something suitable will turn up.”
To donate to the appeal, visit justgiving.com/Darron-Smith/
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