Devoted mum, 30, moves to hospice to 'pass away in her own time' after suffering brain damage from cardiac arrest
A devoted mum from Salford has been moved to a hospice after suffering severe brain damage.
On the morning of March 17, Gemma Louise Tuck, from Eccles, suddenly fell ill and suffered a cardiac arrest.
The mum-of-three children - two twins, Charlie and Cameron, aged three and eight-year-old Callum - was not thought to have suffered any heart problems before.
“She woke up at about six o’clock to get her boys up and her partner could hear weird noises coming from the bathroom and found her on the floor unconscious,” younger sister Nicole Reed tells the M.E.N.
“Whilst the ambulance was on the way, he tried to get her breathing again but he couldn’t.
“She was unconscious for around twenty minutes, they finally got her conscious in hospital and she’s been in an induced coma ever since then.”
In hospital, Gemma suffered a number of seizures due to the brain damage she had suffered from being unconscious for so long.
Gemma was later diagnosed with long QT syndrome, a condition affecting the heart rhythm patterns.
“I think the time between falling at home and getting to hospital, she had four cardiac arrests,” Nicole said.
“Long QT syndrome is a very rare condition, it’s either passed down or it’s a genetic mutation.
“Me, my mum and her kids are going to have to get checked over to see if we have it.”
In hospital, Gemma’s family were unaware of the severity of her condition until a neuroscientist confirmed the hospital’s initial concerns at the end of June.
“The hospital had done some tests and there were concerns she was in a vegetative state but a professional came down from Oxford to assess her and confirmed it,” Nicole explained.
“We were told that we would have to either let Gemma be as she is, with a life expectancy of around five to ten years and 24-hour care, or to take off the nutrition and hydration so she could pass away in her own time.
“All of her brain has stopped working except for the parts that control her reflexes. All she would be able to ever do is breathe and open and shut her eyes.
“Every one of her family and friends knew that Gemma wouldn’t want to be looked after 24/7, being able to sit there with her kids but not being able to hold them.
“She wouldn’t want to be in a position, and we thought that putting Gemma through that would only be for selfish reasons.”
The family has since been waiting for Gemma to move into a hospice where she will be able to pass away comfortably.
Earlier today (September 7), Gemma left hospital and was transferred to the hospice.
“It just depends how long it will take for Gemma to pass away,” Nicole says.
“It could take three days, seven days, two weeks - it just depends.
“Because of her state in the brain, she can’t feel pain or anything so she won’t be uncomfortable when she goes.
“We’ve told the doctors to give her some pain killers just for our own peace of mind so that we know she’s not in pain.”
Nicole added that the last few months have been extremely hard on the family, but more so on Gemma's eldest son, Callum.
“He has low-functioning autism so he can tell you what he wants but he just can’t to you about it,” she explains.
“Before all of this, he wasn’t sensitive to noise at all, he didn't cry or show emotion.
“He had to watch it all happen, he just stood there at his baby gates and watched his mum fall to the floor and he just ran to his bed in tears.
“Ever since then he hates the sound of an ambulance, he can’t tell us how it’s affected him but we know he’s finding it really tough.”
Her family said they want to focus on the ‘many brilliant’ aspects of Gemma and ensure her three children don’t ever go without.
A fundraiser has been set up to help cover the costs of Gemma’s funeral and to ensure her boys have a really special Christmas - their first one without their mum.
“Gemma has always been a very independent person,” Nicole says.
“We used to work nights together at a casino in Manchester, we were very close.
“She was a very bubbly, loud person and would never let anyone tell her how to do things, she always had to do things her own way.
“She’s the nicest and most genuine person I’ve ever met in my life. She would go out of her way to make sure everyone was okay before herself.
“She was never quiet, she laughed all the time and you’d always know when she was in the room with you.”
The fundraiser for Gemma has now almost surpassed £3,000.
Nicole said she was moved by the kindness of the friends and family who have donated but also to the strangers who have contributed.
Writing on the page, Nicole said: “For anyone seeing this who did not know Gemma, she was full of life, always lit up the room when she walked in.
“She is the most amazing human I have ever met, I am blessed for life to be her little sister.”
You can donate to the fundraiser here.