When 24-year-old Kelly Clarke came down with a stomachache while on her honeymoon, she didn’t see anything to worry about.
As the Daily Telegraph reports, the nurse from Sydney was on vacation in Fiji with her new husband, Chase, when she started feeling ill. At first, she dismissed the pains, deciding to try to sleep it off. But within hours, she was in the hospital, being treated for what doctors thought was typhoid.
As Kelly’s condition worsened, doctors decided to put her in an induced coma. Chase was at their hotel, packing their belongings when she called to tell him she was about to be sedated. He told the Telegraph he tried to calm her fears:
“She said over the phone she was scared she was going to die and I just told her I loved her — what else could I say? I told her to be strong, that I was coming straight back and to rest up because she needed her strength.”
That was the last conversation Chase ever had with his wife.
Although Kelly had been cleared for an emergency medical flight back to Australia, it was too late. As News.com.au reports, the newlywed died less than an hour before the emergency crew arrived to take her home.
Though doctors had treated Kelly for typhoid, blood tests for the disease came back negative.
Later, the family learned Kelly had contracted a fungal infection in both lungs that led to organ failure and septicemia. Near the end of her life, Kelly went into cardiac arrest five times in one hour. Worst of all was how quickly the illness moved. It was only 30 hours from the first stomach pains to Kelly’s death.
Chase’s troubles weren’t over as he dealt with medical and government procedures in Fiji. He told the Telegraph about the heartbreaking moment when he identified his wife’s body:
“It was disgusting. They put her body in a refrigerated shipping container and I pulled the sheet off her head and saw her lying there with other bodies on shelves.”
“I don’t know what to say, I’m still in shock. I had to dress her body in her own clothes, there was no mortician there. It’s not something I want to talk about.”
After Kelly’s death, Chase struggled to find the means to bring his wife home but was hindered by both the costs and the government’s insistence on determining the cause of her illness.
The cost to fly Kelly back to Australia was expected to be more than $45,000, and the family started a GoFundMe page to pay for it. However, Chase says insurance has since covered the costs, and the grieving family is now back in Australia.
Chase told the Telegraph how hard it is to plan a funeral, only months after having their wedding:
“I blame myself, the guilt is heavy, no one else, had we not gone to Fiji on our honeymoon, she might still be alive today, I will always wonder.”