Man, part of Britain's first Down's syndrome duo to marry, has COVID

Tragedy as man, 62, who is one half of Britain’s first married couple with Down’s syndrome catches Covid-19 and ‘doctors don’t think he can recover’

  • Tommy and his wife Maryanne Pilling, 48,from Essex, tied the knot in 1995
  • The couple had been isolating together at their home during the pandemic 
  • But Tommy, 62, who also has dementia, has now caught the deadly virus

A man, who with his wife is Britain’s first Down’s syndrome married couple, has contracted COVID-19 and ‘doctors don’t think he can recover’, according to his family.

Tommy, 62, and his wife Maryanne Pilling, 48, who tied the knot in 1995, had been isolating together at their home in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, during the pandemic.

But Tommy, who was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, has now caught the deadly virus and is in hospital, his loved ones revealed in a Facebook post. It is unclear if Maryanne has been tested for coronavirus. 

Tommy, 62, and his wife Maryanne Pilling (pictured), 48, who tied the knot in 1995, had been isolating together at their home in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, during the pandemic

But Tommy (pictured on his wedding day in 1995), who was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, has now caught the deadly virus and is in hospital, his loved ones revealed in a Facebook post

It is unclear if Maryanne has been tested for coronavirus. Pictured, the family’s Facebook post

In a Facebook post, Maryanne’s sister Lindi Newman wrote: ‘Our beautiful Tommy has caught Covid while he was in hospital which has then lead to Covid pneumonia.

‘The doctors don’t think he can recover from this. We are beside ourselves with worry, heartbreak and shock. 

‘Maryanne understands 95 per cent of the situation and is currently living with our mum so she has full support.

‘Please keep him in your thoughts, heart and prayers. We are lost for words and cannot process what is happening, as a family we are broken.’

Thousands of followers shared their support for the couple, with one writing: ‘Really hope that Tommy can be strong and make a recovery. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.’

Tommy (pictured with his wife of 25-years) had a fall on December 10 and then caught Covid


Over December, Lindi, who is a full time carer, asked social media users to bring a little festive cheer to the couple (pictured) by sending them Christmas cards

Another wrote: ‘Terrible news. Prayers for Tommy’s recovery and strength to Maryanne and the family in this very challenging time.’  

Over December, Lindi, who is a full time carer, asked social media users to bring a little festive cheer to the couple by sending them Christmas cards.

The duo were inundated with notes and gifts, but unfortunately, Maryanne was left to open them without her husband, since he had already been taken to hospital with ‘suspected pneumonia’.

Tommy had a fall on December 10 and then caught Covid-19. 

Taking to Facebook to thank the kind strangers who sent cards, the family said: ‘We cannot say thank you enough for your unbelievable kindness! 

Maryanne and Tommy on their wedding day. The duo were inundated with notes and gifts, but unfortunately, Maryanne was left to open them without her husband, since he had already been taken to hospital with ‘suspected pneumonia’

Taking to Facebook to thank the kind strangers who sent cards, the family said: ‘We cannot say thank you enough for your unbelievable kindness’. Pictured, Maryanne and Tommy on their wedding day

‘Maryanne and Tom have received over 2000 cards, we estimate more like 2500! Although Tommy couldn’t open many before he went to hospital, it has given Maryanne something wonderful to concentrate on since she cannot see him. 

Earlier, Lindi revealed: ‘[Maryanne] is absolutely lost. She is trying so hard to put on a brave face but she keeps breaking down in tears. 

‘Maryanne and Tom have only spent 24 hours apart in 30 years. She is distraught and it isn’t getting any easier but she is staying with our mum so is distracted and keeping busy but it is still not helping.’ 

In July 2018, Tommy dissolved into tears while discussing his love for his wife on ITV’s This Morning, as they spoke to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. 

Earlier, Lindi revealed: ‘[Maryanne] (pictured with her husband) is absolutely lost. She is trying so hard to put on a brave face but she keeps breaking down in tears’

In July 2018, Tommy dissolved into tears while discussing his love for his wife on ITV’s This Morning, as they spoke to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby (above)

Maryanne’s mother Linda was also on the show, saying the couple’s relationship was ‘magical’, and told how she was criticised for letting her daughter get married. 

The Pillings, who are thought to be Britain’s first Down’s syndrome married couple, first met at a day centre in Southend in 1990 and were instantly besotted with each other, dating for about 18 months before he proposed.

He popped the question with a toy ring from a vending machine, before the couple married in front of 250 guests at St Mary’s Church in Shoeburyness in 1995.  

For their first seven years of their marriage the couple lived with Maryanne’s mother, but have since lived on their own next door.

Their loved ones set up a Facebook page which follows the couple’s romance with pictures and videos, and it now has more than 60,000 followers.

WHAT IS DOWN’S SYNDROME? 

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that typically causes some degree of learning disability and certain physical characteristics. 

Screening tests can uncover Down’s syndrome during pregnancy but are not completely accurate.

It is caused by an extra chromosome in a baby’s cell due to a genetic change in the sperm or egg.

The chance of this increases according to the age of the mother.

A 20-year-old woman has around a one in 1,500 chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.

Women in their 40s have a one in 100 chance.

There is no evidence women can reduce their chances of having a child with Down’s syndrome. 

Treatment focuses on supporting the patient’s development. 

People with Down’s syndrome have more chance of health complications such as heart disorders, hearing problems, thyroid issues and recurrent infections.

Source: NHS Choices 

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