Lung transplant patient who showed true courage

Maurice Cooke
Maurice Cooke

A Portadown man who received a lung transplant over 10 years ago has died in hospital.

Maurice Cooke’s death was not due to the transplant but was the consequence of a collapse at his home which resulted in a fractured femur.

This necessitated major surgery and a period in intensive care.

It was a sad ending to a life where Maurice (60) bravely surmounted many health problems.

He remained positive throughout with the help and love of his devoted wife Olive.

Maurice was told in 1999 he needed a life-saving lung transplant due to a rare genetic disease, Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. He was on oxygen support for seven years, until he had a single lung transplant in June 2006 at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

As well as his wife Olive (nee Hammond), he is survived by mother-in-law Ina, brothers-in-law Eric (wife Marion), Mark (wife Judith), sister-in-law Shirley (husband Edmund Acheson) and families and his wider family circle.

During the 10 years since the transplant, he and Olive had to make the journey to Newcastle about 60 times for check-ups and supportive care.

Olive, especially, misses her brave and determined husband.

Maurice came originally from Armagh where he was educated at the Armstrong Memorial Primary School and Armagh ‘Tech’ where, after school, he worked part-time at Cafolla’s Cafe “peeling spuds to make pocket money” as he described it.

He moved to Portadown in the early 1970s where he worked initially with R A Irwin’s of Goban Street, after which he moved in 1975 to the Kensington Bakery, owned by his uncle William John Magee.

After it closed, he moved to the Cookery Nook where he continued as a baker until he had to give up work due to ill health.

In October 1975, Maurice and Olive were married at First Portadown (Edenderry) Presbyterian Church by Rev Dr William Craig.

They celebrated their ruby anniversary in 2015 with a surprise party given by Olive’s family.

Maurice had always suffered health problems and these intensified just six months after his marriage.

At the service of thanksgiving in Armagh Road Presbyterian Church, where he had an adult baptism and both he and his wife became full members, Rev Christina Bradley spoke of the courage and devotion of Maurice and Olive.

The minister said that he had been given a 50-50 chance of pulling through in 1976, but he made it and kept on living a positive and determined life.

She added that the transplant had given Maurice a new lease of life, even though the initial prognosis had been for just another five years of life.

Such was the couple’s positivity that Maurice survived more than a decade.

Mrs Bradley said “Maurice was so grateful that he had two birthdays - his birth in February 1956 and the transplant on June 12, 2006”.

She added that he and Olive were true soulmates and were respected at Armagh Road, both being members of the bowling club with Maurice vice-chairman and then chairman.

Prior to ill-health, Maurice also enjoyed hunting and shooting with his springer spaniel Candy, and clay pigeon shooting with friends.

Mrs Bradley quoted a favourite Bible portion - ‘Do not fear, for I am with you. I will strengthen and uphold you’. Hymns were ‘Abide With Me’ and ‘Nearer My God to Thee’. Burial was at Kernan Cemetery.

Donations, if desired, are to Freeman Hospital DREAME Fund, c/o Milne Funeral Services, Deo Gratias, 59 Seagoe Road, Portadown, BT63 5HS.