The day that changed my life: Chris de Burgh, 63, recalls the tragic day his wife Diane lost their unborn child – and almost died herself
22:25 GMT, 19 October 2012
The event that changed my life happened in August 1982.
My wife Diane was pregnant and at home in Ireland in our small apartment near Dublin, while I was in the UK recording an album.
We’d been married since 1978 and were desperate to have children. It all started with a phone call from a friend in Ireland called Joe Duigman, a doctor who lived about 300 yards away from us, telling me Diane was unwell.
Singer Chris de Burgh's life changed in August 1982 when his wife was pregnant
At that time in Ireland, to get a telephone you had to put your name on a list and then wait four years for a landline! I had to do press interviews with people from all over the world standing in the local phone box shivering with cold.
So, because Joe lived so near us and as a doctor had to have a landline, we rigged up a battery-operated radio intercom system which meant I had a handset in my flat. Without that weird paraphernalia this story would have turned out very differently.
That morning the phone rang and Diane picked up the call, which was for Joe, so she buzzed it through to him. As she did so, she told him she was feeling ill and wondered if he could pop by to see her. Being stoic she didn’t make it seem urgent, so Joe went to a hospital appointment first.
A few hours later he came to our apartment and Diane managed to crawl on all fours to the door and open it before collapsing. Joe immediately suspected an ectopic pregnancy [where the embryo implants itself outside the womb], so he rang our mutual friend Michael Darling, another doctor who at that point was Master of the Rotunda Hospital, one of the leading maternity hospitals in Ireland.
Chris de Burgh with his wife and children Hubie, Micheal, Roseanna in 1992
He raced from his house to the Rotunda, while Joe and his wife Eilis drove Diane straight to the operating theatre. There it was discovered she had five pints of blood in her abdomen and if she hadn’t been found when she was, would have died within the next half an hour. That’s how close it was.
I flew over the next day to find Diane looking very shaky, but alive. When Michael had operated on her, he’d discovered her left fallopian tube had burst.
Amazingly he was one of the very few people in Ireland who had studied microsurgery in the UK and instead of doing what every other doctor would have done – whip it out – he repaired it.
Two months later Diane had further surgery and they discovered the right fallopian tube and ovary had been so damaged by a previous infection that they took it out. We were told she had only a five per cent chance of conceiving in the future.
That was a crushing blow. But incredibly Diane became pregnant in 1983! She was very careful about resting so she stayed in bed for weeks until on 17 April, 1984, our little girl Rosanna was born.
Then – even more amazingly – we had two beautiful boys, Hubie, now 24, and his younger brother Michael, 21. But we never forget our luck on that day in August 1982 – when the right people were in the right place at the right time. Angels were definitely smiling down on us that day.
Chris de Burgh’s new album, Home, is out now.