Ipswich Hospital: Widower thanks compassionate nurses who cared for his late wife as she battled rare blood condition which ‘choked her organs’

In light of the damning report by the Care Quality Commission, which found the trust failing in care to the elderly, Frank Mellin told LIZZIE PARRY of the remarkable kindness and outstanding care his family received.

IPSWICH: Within the space of seven months, Frank Mellin’s world came crashing down around him.

Last November, his wife Valerie was diagnosed with the rare blood disease, amyloidosis.

Shocked and stunned, the couple, who had been married for 47 years, were told she had between six months and two years to live.

With only two hospitals in the world specialised in the condition, the Royal Free in London and the Mayo Clinic in America, the couple sought specialist treatment in London.

Mrs Mellin was prescribed chemotherapy at Ipswich Hospital, the hospital where she had worked as a coding officer for 20 years.

“It is a rare disease,” explained 66-year-old Mr Mellin. “It causes plaque to build up and effectively chokes the organs.

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“It is very difficult to diagnose because not many people suffer from the disease.

“Most doctors would never come across a case.”

Four weeks ago Valerie, also 66, started her third regime of gruelling chemotherapy.

For five days and nights, her husband, son David, 40 and 33-year-old daughter Claire Poulson stayed at her side, willing her to pull through.

It was in those five days, Mr Mellin said he witnessed and experienced the “outstanding and incredible compassion” shown by nurses and staff on Somersham Ward.

“It was all very quick,” Mr Mellin, of Cliff Lane said. “We were told she would have between six months and two years.

“The chemo was just to prolong the time we had left together.

“It turned out Valerie had the most aggressive form of the disease, unfortunately by the time it was detected it was too late.”

Describing his wife, his soulmate for the last 47 years, as a “selfless” person, Mr Mellin said she did anything to help others.

“She was one of the people in this world who would help lots of other people.

“Anyone could go to her and she would listen. She was there for everyone.

“She was a wonderful mother to our two children, and a fabulous wife.”

Mr Mellin said in his family’s time of utter agony, nurses and staff at Ipswich Hospital were “fantastic”.

He said: “In light of all the complaints we have heard about the hospital recently I want people to know how wonderful they were to us.

“We were there night and day. I saw what took place on that ward where people were terribly sick with awful, serious illnesses, the staff were unbelievable.

“The compassion they showed was remarkable.

“For two days while Valerie was unconscious, nurses would comb her hair and make sure she looked her best, it would have been so important to her and it meant the world to us.

“They showed us all the greatest respect.”

n Tell us your experiences of Ipswich Hospital. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail evening starletters@eveningstar.co.uk