'His death wasn't necessary' says sister of young farmer who died on way to hospital

Councillor Seanie Power's tractor at the march in Waterford city last Saturday
Councillor Seanie Power's tractor at the march in Waterford city last Saturday
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The sister of a farmer who died in an ambulance while en route to hospital from Waterford to Cork last year, was among the 2,000 people who took part in a march campaigning for 24/7 cardiac services for the south east last weekend.

Thomas Power (40) was a beef and suckler farmer in Bell Lake, Co Waterford. His death shocked the nation last summer when it emerged that he was transferred from University Hospital Waterford (UHW) to Cork University Hospital (CUH) because its catheterisation lab was closed for the weekend.

His sister Catherine Power told FarmIreland that she believes Thomas “would have survived” if he had access to a cath lab and that’s why she was one of the 2,000 who took part in the March at UHW on Saturday.

“His death wasn’t necessary. We never got to say goodbye to him properly. He would've survived if the cath lab was open. Our lives are so different now,” she said.

“We need a 24/7 service. There’s a huge demand for it. I’d go on a hunger strike just to get one.

"We want a 24/7 cath service in the south-east by the time Thomas' first anniversary comes around on June 18. We won't accept anything less"

Catherine urged for both “young and old” members of the farming community to campaign for a 24/7 cath lab for the region as it affects everyone.

“A lot of people feel this doesn’t affect them but it can touch everyone. Thomas was young and fit. All farmers need to be aware of this and stand with us on this,” Catherine said

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“Farmers are pulling and dragging all their lives so they are at risk.”

Thomas farmed with his parents Michael and Eileen all his life and according to Catherine was much loved by everyone in the community.

“He was only growing in confidence and was so lovely and full of craic. He was so kind and took care of his family. He spent all his school days farming. We have lovely memories from our childhood of being on the farm,” she added.

While Catherine and the Power family live close to UHW, it takes them two hours to get to CUH in Cork and even longer for those in other south-east counties that are affected.

“On the day Thomas died it took us a long time to get to  CUH because it was a busy match day in June. It would take even longer for those in Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary, Wexford and other parts of Waterford to get there.”

Carrick-on-Suir farmer and local Fine Gael Councillor, Seanie Power drove his tractor to the March on Saturday with the sign “I am Tom” posted to the front engine. He said made the sign because he wanted to highlight that everyone is at risk.

“I put that sign up because we are all Tom Power. We are all at risk and vulnerable. It could happen to any of us,” said Cllr Power

Local Independent TD John Halligan and  Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane also marched alongside the power family and the different groups campaigning for 24/7 cardiac service,s which include, Health Equality for the Southeast, 24/7 Cardiac Cover for the South East and the South East Patient Advocacy Group.


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