Wednesday 23 January 2019

'My last words were, "Love you and see you in Cork" ... it was horrible' - wife of young farmer who died on way to hospital

Bernadette Power and the late Thomas Power.
Bernadette Power and the late Thomas Power.

Ralph Riegel

A MAN whose death sparked a major campaign over cardiac services in Waterford was told by his wife as he left UHW for transfer to Cork that she loved him and she would see him shortly.

A Cork Coroner's Court inquest heard today that Bernadette Power arrived in Cork only to be told her husband, Thomas Power (39), had died shortly after arriving from Waterford.

Mr Power went into cardiac arrest as the ambulance undertaking his transfer passed Dungarvan en route to Cork University Hospital (CUH) from University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

The young farmer had to be transferred to CUH because the cardiac cath lab at UHW was closed that day, operating only from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Coroner Philip Comyn also heard that the ambulance rushing Mr Power to CUH under a Protocol 37 transfer ran out of adrenalin en route to Cork and had to be resupplied en route by another ambulance.

The inquest heard that no air ambulance transfer was sought on the day.

Despite desperate attempts by nurses and doctors in the ambulance to resuscitate him, Mr Power was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at CUH at 1.50pm on June 18 2017.

Mr Power's death sparked a major campaign last year for a major expansion of cardiac cath lab services at UHW.

The campaign has been led by Mr Power's family including his parents, Michael and Eileen, and his siblings, Joan and Catherine.

Mr Comyn was told that Mr Power had married his wife, Bernadette, just nine months before his death.

The couple were expecting their first child at the time of his death.

Mrs Bernadette Power wept as she recalled to the inquest the day of her husband's death.

"The last words I spoke to Tom were: 'Love you and see you in Cork.' We were going out for six years. We were married nine months," she wept.

Mrs Power said her husband had not complained of any health issues before June 18 2017.

"He displayed no sign of ill health and did not complain of being unwell," she said.

Her husband was in such good health he did not have a GP.

The only time she recalled him going to the doctor was to have a thorn taken from his hand.

On June 18, Mrs Power was off work and the couple planned to go for lunch once they had jobs on the farm done.

"At 11am, Tom rang me. I thought he was ringing to say he had done his work and was coming home. But he said he had a pain in his chest."

Mrs Power told her husband to stay at the farm and she would collect him to bring him to UHW.

"Tom was standing by his van. He got in (to the car) himself. On the way in he was alert and talking to me. He had his hand on the rail by the window."

"During the trip to hospital he said he was in pain."

"At no point during the trip to hospital did I think he was going to die," she sobbed.

"He said he had a pain in his chest but nothing that I thought he was going to die from."

On arrival at UHW at 11.25am, she told him to wait in the car while she alerted medical staff.

He was then assisted into the emergency department by two nurses and, a short time later, around 11.42am, was diagnosed as having a heart attack.

Mrs Power was told her husband was being transferred to CUH.

Waterford medical staff had contacted CUH doctors about the transfer to its cath lab.

Mrs Power was advised to travel to Cork with a family member before the ambulance left so she would not get upset at its departure.

"They said he may possibly have to get a stent."

"It was horrible...," she wept.

"When I was leaving the hospital I thought I was going to see Tom alive in Cork."

The inquest continues.

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