Man died en route to Cork as local cath lab closed

Calls for University Hospital Waterford’s (UHW) cath lab to operate 24/7 have re-emerged after a man died of a heart attack on his way to Cork in an ambulance.

Thomas Power, 40, died on Sunday afternoon about 30 minutes after leaving UHW by ambulance for Cork.

“If my brother had the heart attack today [Monday] he would be alive,” his sister, Catherine, told the Irish Examiner.

The UHW cath lab, where cardiac tests and procedures take place, only operates Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

Several protests have taken place calling for this service to operate 24/7 and more than 110 hospital consultants have called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to open a second cath lab in UHW.

If a person is suffering a heart attack in the South-East outside of these hours they are transferred to Cork.

Mr Power had been married for nine months, had just finished building a house and his wife Bernie is expecting their first child.

“All he wanted was Bernie, the marriage, and the baby,” said Catherine. “The last words he said to her [Bernie] was, as the doors of the ambulance closed, were: ‘I love you, don’t be stressing. I’ll see you later. Mind yourself.’ ”

Catherine spoke on Joe Duffy’s Live Line yesterday afternoon, just 24 hours after her brother’s death, because she felt she “needed to do something about” the cath lab situation in Waterford.

“This is ridiculous. We want it opened 24/7,” she said.

Catherine explained the timeline of events that led to her only brother’s death.

On Sunday morning, he complained of chest pain and Bernie brought him straight into UHW. The staff immediately prepared him to travel to Cork and he was moved to an ambulance. His wife travelled to Cork with her brother, a garda, behind the ambulance.

Thomas died of cardiac arrest in the ambulance and was pronounced dead in Cork University Hospital.

“They never reached Cork,” Catherine said. “Obviously, we had to go down to Cork and see him and identify him and be with him and have our goodbyes.

“It took us three hours to get down to Cork. How is an ambulance meant to get down here on these bad roads and we have a cath lab in Waterford sitting there empty for the weekends, they won’t pay staff to put it on.”

Last Friday, it was revealed that a mobile cath lab, to clear waiting lists in Waterford, will not be operational until September, with the tendering process due to start this week.


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