A mother tragically died from Covid-19 after telling her husband and five-year-old son she loved them in a heartbreaking phone call from her hospital bed.
Emma Reilly, 38, passed away 12 days after being admitted to the Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester when she tested positive for coronavirus.
The mother-of-one had suffered cold symptoms – including a sore throat and runny nose – which dramatically worsened over the Christmas period.
Her husband Tony, 38, then decided to call for an ambulance when her condition deteriorated further on Boxing Day.
‘We both had symptoms of a heavy cold before Christmas,’ he said. ‘A sore throat and a runny nose, not the classic symptoms of Covid like a cough, headache or loss of taste.
‘But we decided to get tested and it came back that we both had Covid. On Christmas Day Emma came downstairs and she looked unwell but we watched [our son] Connor open his presents.’
Emma Reilly, 38, passed away 12 days after being admitted to Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester when she tested positive for coronavirus. Pictured: Ms Reilly with her husband Tony and their son Connor
‘She stayed on the sofa all day and didn’t open any of her own presents. That night she said she wanted to sleep on the sofa because she was so hot and wanted to keep the patio doors open.’
Mr Reilly, from Stirchley in Birmingham, decided to call for an ambulance at around 1am on Boxing Day when his wife developed an ‘unusual cough.’
He said: ‘She was taken to Salford Royal Hospital where she was given a special helmet to be worn around her head which supplies oxygen.’
Staff later told the father that Ms Reilly wasn’t getting enough oxygen into her body and they were looking to put her to sleep and place her on a ventilator.
The mother-of-one had suffered cold symptoms – including a sore throat and runny nose – which dramatically worsened over the Christmas period
Her husband Tony, 38, then decided to call for an ambulance when her condition deteriorated further and she developed an ‘usual cough’ early on Boxing Day
Her husband said: ‘She rang me and she was so weak she could hardly speak. She told me and Connor that she loved us.
‘That was the last time I ever spoke to her. They put her to sleep and placed her on a ventilator.’
Ms Reilly was on a ventilator for days but her husband received a call in the early hours of January 7 to say nothing more could be done for the mother and that he needed to go to the hospital.
He said: ‘I had Connor with me and asked if he could come which they agreed. The staff were amazing and helped to look after him while I was there.
‘She briefly showed signs of recovery and they told me to go back home again, take a shower, and have some food. I did that and returned later but her condition worsened.
‘They said she didn’t have much longer. I held her hand as she passed away.
‘The hardest thing I have ever had to do was to tell Connor that his mummy had gone to heaven. It broke my heart. He has been very brave but I catch him crying at times.
‘He seems to get a bit embarrassed that he is crying but I tell him that it’s OK we need to speak about mummy.’
Staff later told the father that Ms Reilly wasn’t getting enough oxygen into her body and they were looking to put her to sleep and place her on a ventilator
Mr Reilly said medical staff at the hospital told him Emma had been suffering from undiagnosed cellulitis.
He said her death has not just devastated his family, including Ms Reilly’s parents Doreen and Mike, but her many friends in Redditch where she lived most of her life.
He said: ‘Emma was such a bubbly fun going woman with a heart of gold.
She was always there to support people in their time of need. She liked to raise money for charity through Race For Life and other fundraising events.
‘She lived in New York as a child as her father was working over there so she has many friends in America. She spent most of her life in Redditch and has many friends there too.
‘I have received so many messages of support from so many people.’
Aston Villa fan Mr Reilly said he had received messages of support from former players Ian Taylor, Lee Hendrie and Shaun Teale.
Elaine Darwin, headteacher of Connor’s school, Irlam Primary School, has set up a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to help go towards Ms Reilly’s funeral costs.
She wrote: ‘This is for the family of Emma Reilly, a beautiful lady both inside and out, who passed away in hospital after contracting Covid-19.
‘She leaves behind her heartbroken husband, Tony, and 5-year-old son Connor.
‘The money raised will help the family through their devastating loss and will be put into savings to help Connor, which is what Emma would have wanted.’