HOLDING the body of his tiny son in his arms, tears trickled down Luke Powell’s face.
His wife, Karlene, 37, had just died on the bed they slept in.
She was 21 weeks pregnant with their first child, a little boy, but had suffered a suspected clot in her lungs.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics to save mum and son neither had survived.
“It broke my heart” said Luke, 43, from Nottingham, who had been married to Karlene for little more than a year. “I was so excited to be a dad to a newborn.
“I loved being a husband to Karlene.
“Suddenly, in less than half-an-hour, they had both been taken.”
The tragedy occurred on February 19 this year and self-employed Luke has bravely decided to talk about it.
He told how the couple had started trying for a baby in August last year with Karlene falling pregnant weeks later.
“She’d done a few pregnancy tests before then but always been disappointed,” he said.
“Then, one day, she presented me with a paper towel. On it was laid a positive pregnancy test. I jumped up and down and was so excited – I’m a crier – but she was calm even though being a mum was her lifelong dream.”
They learnt at Nottingham City Hospital at 20 weeks they were having a seemingly healthy boy with Luke wanting to call him OJ – although Karlene wasn’t as convinced.
The pregnancy was “routine but not jolly,” said Luke. “She was very tired and had heavy breathing.
“Looking back those were all symptoms of the clot she’d suffered but at the time we chalked it up to pregnancy.
“We just thought it was an ‘annoying pregnancy’ if that makes sense.”
The morning she died she was in “good spirits,” Luke said. “That wasn’t like her at all,” he added. “Normally she wasn’t a morning person. But she was in a good mood. We chatted and watched videos. I started to cry at a sad one and she laughed at me.”
He offered to make her dinner but instead she opted for a nap. But when Luke walked into the bedroom she sat up in bed and began to act as though she was choking, although she had not eaten.
“She was not breathing well,” he said. “I didn’t understand what was happening although she was clearly ill.
“I called 999 and paramedics arrived very quickly and started performing CPR. They moved her onto the floor.”
Escorted from the room, by the time he re-entered Luke instinctively knew it was terrible news.
“I knew we’d lost the baby,” he said. “But I wasn’t expecting what came next. They explained Karlene had also died.
“I didn’t want to lose any of them. It was so unfair.”
Since then he’s learnt she had a suspected clot to the lungs, something she also suffered in 2008.
It broke my heart. I was so excited to be a dad to a newborn.”
“I went to see her in the chapel at the hospital,” he said. “She had a smile on her face. She looked like she was sleeping.”
He told how the couple met as children in Jamaica but lost touch when he moved to the UK in 2002, reuniting when he visited his home country in January 2020.
“She was working as a security guard and there was an immediate spark,” he said. “It just grew and grew. She was very quiet and reserved but also very kind and loving.”
They married in Jamaica in May 2021 and she planned to live in the UK with her new husband straight away but covid put a stop to that. Eventually, in August 2022, she arrived here and the pair quickly began trying for a baby.
In October 2022 they moved into their new house, but Luke hasn’t been able to go back there since Karlene and his son died there.
“It breaks my heart they are both gone,” he said. “There hasn’t been a funeral yet but they will be laid to rest together.
“I’ll never stop missing them.”
Luke’s best friend, solicitor James Ramowski, who is raising money for their elderly parents to come from Jamaica to attend the funeral and for Luke to relocate, plus for him to have therapy, said: “[There is] post-traumatic stress of seeing his wife and child die in the home he lovingly created for them, a house that meant a new life together.
“He can’t go back there after everything that happened on that sad day after what he witnessed.
“He will need professional counselling to process the trauma he has gone through. We believe we need to raise at least £15,000 for all of the above.
“After only six months of happiness and time together in the UK, within a matter of minutes, Luke’s life and everything he was living for were destroyed.”
If you can help Luke please visit the GoFundMe that has been set up.