A “brilliant” software engineer has died after spending more than two months battling coronavirus in intensive care at Ipswich Hospital – leaving behind a wife, daughter and unborn child.
Chinedu Ekwunife passed away with his wife Lotachi by his side on Sunday, June 14. Family and friends of the 35-year-old have paid tribute to the “loving husband, proud dad, caring son and great brother”.
The couple have a two-year-old daughter named Chimamanda and 28-year-old mother Lotachi found out she was expecting another a baby just one week after Chinedu went into hospital.
“I was worried I had symptoms of the virus but it was the pregnancy,” she explained. “The baby is due in November and I thought maybe the pregnancy was a sign he would pull through and make it out of the hospital.
“When he went in he was so brave and so courageous, I was so scared for him I didn’t know what to feel – the last 10 weeks has been a nightmare for me.”
Ozioma Uzoegwu, a close friend and best man to Chinedu who also lives in Ipswich, has started a fundraiser to support his young family. The Go Fund Me page has already raised £37,289 – smashing the original target of £10,000 in less than one week.
In an emotional tribute to Chinedu, who he met in 2005, Ozioma said: “I am still in a very big shock after hearing about your passing away.
“You were a real fighter and tried your very best for over two and a half months fighting the dreadful Covid-19 disease.
“Even in your sickbed, you made big news in the hospital, with the doctors and nurses amazed by your fighting spirit and rooting for you to fully recover.”
“The past weeks have been difficult for everyone especially Lotachi and your little two-year-old daughter Chimamanda who has been asking after daddy.
“You did everything possible to stay strong for them but God had his plans.”
The Nigerian-born Christian moved to Ipswich after completing an MSc degree at Southampton University on a fully-funded scholarship in 2013 and married his “heart-throb” Lotachi in 2017.
He was described as highly self-motivated, inspirational and hard-working with an impressive academic career. His family revered him as a brilliant, considerate, generous and cheerful good man.
Outside his work as a technology consultant, Chinedu enjoyed gardening, taking long walks, running and watching boxing games.
When he was admitted to Ipswich Hospital, he did not have any previously known medical conditions.
Lotachi is grieving for their marriage, cut short after only three years, and said Chinedu told her to stay strong.
“He was tall, dark, handsome, intelligent and always knew what to do,” she added. “He was so smart and it was one of the reasons I married him.
“I felt that being with him would make me a better person and I didn’t ever had any doubts or worries.”
Sister of Chinedu, Kosoluchukwu, recalled the fateful night he was readmitted to the ICU after a relapse in his condition on April 6.
She said he had texted the family group chat saying: “God’s will,” “Whatever happens, I don’t mind,” “Sis, didn’t see this coming,” “I’ll be gone,” “Guys I’ll be away in coma for about 2 weeks,” and: “Ok bye now, see you soon.”
Kosoluchukwu said in a tribute to her brother: “Seeing these messages drop on the family chat group that fateful night, just before you were sedated in the ICU of Ipswich Hospital, brought tears to my eyes.
“I wept that night because I wasn’t sure what to make of the messages, and also because for the first time, I thought of the possibility of losing you.”
She praised Chinedu for leading an exemplary life and said she would always be a proud sister of a “brilliant and well-behaved” man.
She added: “I know I will miss the phone calls, the laughter, the brotherly care, the love, and all.
“I’m sure relatives, colleagues and friends are so proud of you.”
Chinedu also had two brothers, Emeka and Obinna, who have both shared tributes of their own with messages to the Ipswich dad.
Emeka promised: “We are going to do our best to look after your young family and uphold your legacy – I am going to miss you so much.”
Obinna said his brother was not afraid of death and praised his generosity and intelligence until the end.
Chinedu’s family have shared prayers for him.
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