A widow who lost her dementia-stricken husband to coronavirus said his final wish to donate his brain to science could not be fulfilled because of the illness.
Jim Powell, 74, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on April 21 after falling ill in the care home where he lived and died a week later.
Mr Powell, who had Alzheimer’s disease, had hoped to donate his brain to science and five years ago agreed with his wife, Sally, 73, that it would happen.
But due to the pandemic, the couple’s hopes were dashed – and Mr Powell will be laid to rest on Friday at a small funeral.
Mum-of-three Mrs Powell, from Irvine, North Ayrshire, believes many grieving families will be in the same position.
She said: “Jim was set on leaving his body to science but I said ‘the abuse you’ve given it, I don’t think they’d want it’.
“When he was diagnosed, one of the things they said was ‘you can donate the brain’ and I said to Jim ‘what about doing that?’ and he agreed.
“I reassured him his wishes would be carried out.”
Mr Powell, originally from Gateshead, was diagnosed 11 years ago with Alzheimer’s and for much of that time, Mrs Powell cared for him at home.
When she found out that the Covid-19 test came back positive and that his last wish could no longer happen, she was devastated.
Mrs Powell said: “They came back and said they’re not taking anything, the whole research is blocked because of Covid.
“I felt I’d let him down, it was like the last straw.
“Jim’s whole attitude was ‘if I have got this illness I may as well do something with it’.
“There could be hundreds of families like me and Jim, that thought they would be doing that but now can’t.
“It is such a loss, it will take Alzheimer’s research quite a while to recover.”
She added: “I have always known the outcome of Alzheimer’s disease and I knew where we were going with it.
“But I never could have anticipated this sort of situation.”
“It was so important to me that I saw him calm and he wasn’t in pain.”Sally Powell on Jim’s passing
Mrs Powell praised the carers who looked after her husband in his final days and said she was comforted by the fact he died surrounded by people he knew at the Caledonia Care Home in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire.
Dressed in full personal protective equipment, she and her daughter were able to spend time with Jim as he passed away.
Mrs Powell said: “I thought that was absolutely amazing, I was very lucky.
“He took a stroke on April 26 and they phoned as soon as it happened and said ‘would you like to come in and say your goodbyes’.
“They were run off their feet in full PPE, and I was exhausted just wearing it and sitting down.
“They were so caring, and it means an awful lot to know he was so cared for.
“It was so important to me that I saw him calm and he wasn’t in pain.”
The couple’s two stepdaughters have set-up a fundraiser with the money going to Alzheimer Scotland in his memory.
To donate visit justgiving.com/fundraising/sakladdie45
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