WOMAN DIES IN ALTNAGELVIN HOSPITAL 90 MINUTES AFTER SHE WEDS HER SWEETHEART
A TERMINALLY-ill woman married the love of her life from her bed in Altnagelvin Hospital — and was still wearing her wedding dress when she tragically passed away.
Brave Jacqueline McCullagh, 57, lost her cancer fight just an hour and a half after marrying her partner of 20 years Martin McCullagh last month.
Emotional Martin said: “After we got married we had a beautiful kiss and then the medical staff said she was beginning to suffer badly and that we would have to let her go.
“So she passed away with me holding her hand. It was so peaceful after all the pain and agony.”
The mother’s ashes were scattered at the grave of her son who was murdered in England in January 2003.
Staff at the Derry hospital have been praised for their efforts to transform a consulting room into an intimate chapel decorated with flowers.
Mr McCullagh, 58, described it as a surreal and chaotic day as staff rushed to ensure they had a happy wedding.
He said: “Getting married was something that we were always going to do for our 60th birthday but then Jacqui was diagnosed with small cell and lung cancer in November and we brought the wedding forward.
“She came out of hospital just before Christmas after a very bad chemotherapy experience but she was recovering and things were going well.
“We even thought we would book the wedding six weeks from then as we thought we had that time as she was doing so well, but unfortunately a week before she died she was suffering from chest pain.”
Jacqueline, who is originally from London, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and after a few days she showed signs of recovery.
The pair were to travel to Omagh registrar office for their wedding but things took a turn for the worse.
Mr McCullagh added: “Staff tried as much as they could to keep her going but they realised the day before she died that things were getting bad.
“We spoke to the registrar and she agreed to marry us in the hospital. The staff on Ward 4 were amazing.
“They had friends who donated flowers and they took over one of the consulting rooms and made it into a chapel for us on the Saturday morning.
“The room was stunning and they got cake and sandwiches and staff were coming in on their days off – they really made a massive effort.
“Unfortunately, Jacqui was so weak that she couldn’t make it into that room so we got married at her bedside. She shouted, ‘I do’ at the top of her voice — her strength left me absolutely shocked, she was a really strong woman.
“The registrar was in tears and she forgot to tell me to put the ring on, it was chaos.”