The heartbroken wife of a man who died with Covid-19 just days ago has pleaded with people to wear face masks to help save lives.
Jeni Pim, whose husband Nigel, 51, died in Waterford on January 14 from complications linked to Covid-19, said she wanted to speak out so soon after his death to encourage people to follow public health guidelines.
“Nigel was a great man, he was kind and he was generous, he wore his mask from the word go because he wanted to protect everybody else because that was the type of guy he was,” she told Ryan Tubridy on.
“And that's what I'm here for, I just want somebody to look at this and go ‘do you know what, I am going for a walk with my friend tomorrow, maybe I'll wear my mask when I'm doing that, because I don't want to see that friend in two weeks time and get a message to say they are on a ventilator in hospital. This virus kills people we love.”
In 2010, Nigel donated one of his kidneys to his father, Alan, who spent Christmas Day with him and Jeni, and with her parents.
Jeni, a teacher at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, said it was a wonderful occasion.
“We had been so careful, specifically coming up to Christmas because we wanted to have Christmas Day with our family... we did everything to make sure we got to that day safely and we had the loveliest Christmas Day,” she said.
Nigel felt unwell and wore his mask when he wasn’t eating, but on St Stephen's Day, he felt worse and they contacted the doctor who advised that he be tested for Covid-19.
Jeni said: “He kind of went downhill. He still was part of the family, doing everything we were doing, he was just very tired.
“We were going towards the test centre and I squeezed his hand and said 'you're not very well at all, I'm really worried about you'."
Nigel was later admitted to hospital and Jeni recalled squeezing his hand before he walked in and saying: 'I love you, it's going to be OK. You are going to the right place.'
She said she expected to see him in a few days but on New Year's Day, Jeni was told that Nigel was being admitted to intensive care, and then he was placed on a ventilator.
He never got to send a message to his family.
Jeni praised the frontline healthcare workers who cared for her husband, but on January 14, a consultant phoned her and said: “I’m terribly sorry, there was a complication...it is catastrophic”.
She said: “To hear those words, about somebody who you had spent most of your life with, and who, even though you knew they were sick, you expected to be able to see them again.
“They said there's nothing they can do and that if you and your kids would like to come in and be with him when we turn off the ventilator, we will help you do that'."
Nigel died later that day. He was buried last Saturday.
Jeni got a clear Covid-19 test and got clearance from her doctor to travel to Dublin for the interview.
Nigel donated one of his kidney's to his father, Alan, in 2011, after his kidney function had deteriorated to just 16%.
He said that while it was a huge undertaking, both psychically and mentally, he had no hesitation.
“I tried not to think too much about it until all the pre-tests were done,” he said.
“Our lives were put on hold for a year before the operation. But he would have done anything for me, so...”
Nigel had to shed 20% of his bodyweight before he was deemed ready for the operation.