Jim Wells' wife 'making slow recovery' from two strokes
Health Minister's spouse 'out of imminent danger' after two major strokes
Health Minister Jim Wells has revealed that his wife Grace is making a slow recovery after suffering two major strokes.
The senior DUP man, who maintained a six-day vigil by his wife's side in hospital, said last night that his family were relieved that Mrs Wells appears to be out of imminent danger following suffering the first stroke early in February.
However, the MLA for South Down said that his wife's progress was going to be "a slow and painful process".
After visiting the mother-of-three yesterday in hospital, Mr Wells said: "Regrettably we can't say that there has been any dramatic improvement but we do feel that she is out of the life-threatening situation.
"She is going to be in hospital for many, many weeks due to the effects of the two strokes.
"We are thankful that the breathing equipment has been removed but recovery is going to be a long, slow, painful process."
Mrs Wells became seriously ill when she suffered a severe stroke at the start of February.
She had been making good progress at hospital when she unfortunately suffered a second, which the minister described as "a major setback".
The couple have been married for 32 years and have two adult daughters and a son, and are also grandparents.
Despite her husband's increased political profile over the years, Mrs Wells has always preferred to stay out of the public eye.
The minister recently opened his heart to the Belfast Telegraph about his wife's condition.
"This has been a very worrying and terrible time," he said.
"Grace knows who we are but she cannot speak to us.
"We are just staying as close to her as possible and we are so thankful for the support of family, friends, our church, party members and other politicians, all of whom have been wonderful."
Mr Wells was also full of praise for his children on how they have supported him and their mother over the crisis.
The Co Down man added: "They have been with me 100% and I have seen many qualities in them that I have never seen before."
Mrs Wells had been looked after by doctors and nurses at the Acute Stroke Unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, before she was moved to another hospital.
Mr Wells said: "I have met many people going through the same family crisis as us.
"I could not fault the care Grace has received from all the staff."
Politicians from across the political spectrum united to send their best wishes to the couple.