Newry mum Kathy (34) dies in Australia - family 'beyond devastated'
The family of a Co Down woman, who died from a viral illness in Australia, say they are "beyond devastated" by her untimely passing.
Originally from Newry, Kathy Kucuk (nee McConville) lost her fight against viral myocarditis following heart surgery on Monday evening.
Only weeks ago, Mrs Kucuk (34) was fit and healthy but last month, she, along with her husband Fatih and one-year-old daughter Zoe, came down with a virus.
While Fatih and Zoe recovered, the young mum's condition went from bad to worse. She was rushed to hospital in Noosa on Queensland's Sunshine Coast on November 15 and was quickly diagnosed with viral myocarditis - an inflammatory and often deadly disease which attacks heart muscle.
As her condition worsened, Mrs Kucuk was airlifted to Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane where she underwent open heart surgery.
She was placed on both life support and an emergency heart transplant list. Complications including a lack of blood circulation meant doctors had been forced to amputate one of her legs. She died on Monday during her sixth heart operation within days.
Mrs Kucuk and her husband, who is originally from Turkey, married last year. The couple had recently moved from Melbourne to Noosa with their baby daughter where they had started up a new business. A hairdresser by trade, Mrs Kucuk was planning to retrain as a primary school teacher.
The news of her death was announced on a GoFundMe page which was set up by her family to raise funds for her treatment since she was admitted to hospital last month. So far around £16,000 has been raised.
Her sister-in-law, Rachael Welch, said the family were "beyond devastated" by her death but overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support to date.
She said: "Kathy was in her sixth surgery and she fought so hard to be here but it was just too long and too hard on her.
"Our campaign has not ended nor has our goal. We are now focused on helping Kathy's husband and daughter move through this terrible period with less worry and stress. So if you care to share this campaign we would be so grateful.
"We are humbled and truly moved by all the donations, support and love that has been given and extended for Kathy and her family. We can never thank you enough," she added.
Her cousin Anna McAllister (36) told the Belfast Telegraph that the family were rallying behind Mrs Kucuk's heartbroken grandmother Florence McClelland, who is aged 91 and still lives in Newry.
Anna said: "Kathy always remained a very proud Newry woman and loved returning home whenever she could.
"She had been in Australia for a decade and received her citizenship in 2012 which she had worked really hard for.
"Kathy always had a real zest for life and lived for each day. She was back in Ireland in September to see her beloved Nana Florrie and all her family and friends at home. We all had a great time with her and she was delighted to show off her much longed for and beautiful baby Zoe."
Anna added: "Kathy was embracing her new life as a wife and mother and had so many plans for the future. She was in a really happy place and the family were embarking on their next chapter with their new home and business.
"Now all of a sudden, out of the blue, our lovely (and always healthy) cousin is gone. It's so hard to take in particularly when she was so far away from home and it's just so tragic given her young age."
Mrs Kucuk is survived by her husband, Fatih, daughter Zoe, mother Patricia, brothers Matthew and David and sister Julie all of whom live in Australia along with their families.
Her death is also being mourned in Northern Ireland by her sister Emma, brother Mark, grandmother and the wider family circle.
You can contribute towards the family's fundraising at www.gofundme.com/help-for-our-kathy