‘Fit and healthy’ father-of-one, 48, who was ‘recovering’ from coronavirus died gasping for air


A devoted father who was ‘fit and healthy’ and had been recovering from the coronavirus died gasping for breath as his wife and 10-year-old daughter watched on helplessly.

Dom Merrix appeared to have overcome the virus, but his condition took a turn for the worse and the 48-year-old suddenly collapsed on Thursday morning at his home in Portsmouth.

The aspiring football coach had self-isolated over two weeks ago due to the fact he had been experiencing symptoms of the virus.

He had been living in the downstairs area of the family home and his wife Sarah, 44, and daughter Ellie-Mai had been living upstairs.

Dom Merrix (pictured above with his wife Sarah and daughter Ellie-Mai) died on Thursday 

Dom had been living in the downstairs area of the family home in order to stay away from his daughter Ellie-Mae and wife Sarah (Dom and Ellie-Mai are pictured together above

Dom had been living in the downstairs area of the family home in order to stay away from his daughter Ellie-Mae and wife Sarah (Dom and Ellie-Mai are pictured together above

Sarah called an ambulance as Dom struggled to breath. Paramedics arrived at their home and helped Dom into the ambulance.

Tragically, he suffered a heart attack while in the ambulance and despite valiant efforts by medics, he died before reaching Queen Alexandra Hospital.

The tragic news comes as:

  • A total of 406 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales registered up to April 3 occurred outside of hospitals, according to provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics; 
  • Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hit out at reports medical protective equipment has been diverted from Scottish care homes to English ones, saying she ‘will not stand by and be treated unfairly’; 
  • Teachers are ‘disturbed’ by ‘unhelpful’ speculation that schools and colleges will reopen soon amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the largest education union in Europe; 
  • 10 Downing Street’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has returned to work after going into self-isolation when Mr Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus; 
  • Boris Johnson is not taking any phone calls or receiving official papers as he recuperates from coronavirus at Chequers in Buckinghamshire, his spokesperson said; 
  • Government advisers criticised the ‘all or nothing’ approach to lockdown and said there is no evidence that sunbathing presents a transmission risk;
  • It was revealed the UK has missed three chances to participate in an EU scheme to buy huge quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff;
  • Europe took its first tentative steps towards a return to normality as some countries including Austria, Italy and Spain start to re-open businesses.

Dom had not been officially diagnosed with the coronavirus but his family and friends believe he had the illness. 

Now a family friend has warned anyone could die from the disease and has urged people to stay inside.

Rachel Hibbert said that people think it isn’t going to happen to them because they are fit an young.

Dom (pictured above with wife Sarah) felt normal when he got up last week and even browsed social media

Dom (pictured above with wife Sarah) felt normal when he got up last week and even browsed social media

Dom had recently lost his job at energy firm SSE, where he had worked for 15 years, he is pictured above with daughter Ellie-Mae

Dom had recently lost his job at energy firm SSE, where he had worked for 15 years, he is pictured above with daughter Ellie-Mae

The 37-year-old added: ‘Dom was fit and young and it killed him. It’s torn his family apart and left them devastated.

WHAT ARE THE CORONAVIRUS SYMPTOMS?

The virus, called COVID-19, is transmitted from person to person via droplets when an infected person breathes out, coughs or sneezes. 

It can also spread via contaminated surfaces such as door handles or railings. 

Coronavirus infections have a wide range of symptoms, including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  

Mild cases can cause cold-like symptoms including a sore throat, headache, fever, cough or trouble breathing.  

Severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory illness, kidney failure and death.  

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

‘This virus is taking the lives of young, fit, healthy people – not just those with underlying health conditions…It puts the fear of God in me that Dom can just drop like that.’

On the morning of his death, Dom woke up and appeared ‘normal’, said Rachel, scrolling through Twitter, even retweeting a message supporting the NHS hours before he died.

Speaking of the ordeal on behalf of Dom’s family, Rachel said he had text his daughter to open the windows as he had been struggling to breathe, before texting his wife for help.

‘Sarah came downstairs and found him on his hands and knees struggling to breathe. When the paramedics arrived they put him on the trolley and asked him to lean back but he couldn’t do it.

‘That was it. Then the doors to the ambulance shut. They didn’t see him alive again.

‘His heart stopped and the paramedics spent 20 minutes outside the house trying to get it started again. By the time he got to hospital they couldn’t bring him back.’

She said his daughter had been watching from the window of the property.

Dom had recently lost his job at energy firm SSE, where he had worked for 15 years.

Rachel has since started a fundraising appeal to help Dom’s grieving loved ones pay for his funeral at Portchester Crematorium.

And within two days the appeal attracted donations from almost 300 people, raising more than £6,000.

‘Sarah and Ellie-Mai have been blown away by all the support,’ Rachel added. ‘They’re overwhelmed. Dom’s death has left a huge hole in their lives.

‘They can now have the funeral that Dom deserves. It will also give them a few months of not worrying about money.’

Dom, who was a Portsmouth Football Club fan and long-term season ticket holder, is having a bespoke blue Pompey casket made.

Pompey’s chief executive, Mark Catlin said he was horrified by the death of the aspiring amateur football coach and hoped the Blues’ community would rally behind the family.

He added: ‘I was shocked to hear of the passing of Dom Merrix last week. Like many Pompey fans, I knew Dom had contracted Covid-19, but thought he had made a full recovery.

‘Both personally – and on behalf of my family and the club – my sincere thoughts and condolences go out to Sarah and Ellie-Mai.. Sadly, too many families have lost loved ones over recent weeks.’

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