'I love you and I'll see you in Cork' - Words of dad-to-be before he died while being transferred between hospitals
Newly-wed suffered fatal cardiac arrest during ambulance transfer
Couldn't get emergency treatment in local hospital - says sister
'My brother (40) is dead because cath lab was closed for the weekend'
Sister's grief as minister condemns cardiac care in south-east
A father-to-be suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after he couldn't get emergency treatment in his local hospital, it was claimed last night.
A vital heart centre in University Hospital Waterford was shut down for the weekend.
Newlywed farmer Thomas Power (40), from Woodstown, died in an ambulance en route to Cork University Hospital, some 130km away from Waterford's hospital.
Mr Power died within 30 minutes of leaving the Waterford Hospital, suffering from a heart attack, his sister Catherine said.
The treatment centre in Waterford - known as a cath lab - is only open on weekdays.
The campaign for a second lab has been at the centre of a political row amid warnings that the limited facilities were costing lives.
The beef farmer married his wife Bernadette just nine months ago. Mrs Power is expecting their first child at the end of the year.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, his heartbroken sister called for the unit to be open 24/7 in a bid to prevent further such "unnecessary" deaths.
She contacted RTÉ's 'Liveline' programme yesterday and told Joe Duffy she believed her brother's life could have been saved if treatment was available in Waterford.
She said when she asked medical staff at CUH if her brother would have been saved had he been treated at a cath lab in Waterford, she was told "more than likely, yeah".
It's understood that Mr Power suffered severe chest pain and drove to Waterford Hospital with his wife.
The normal procedure to treat an emergency case would be to try to unblock his artery and put in a stent. This could have been done within five minutes if the cath lab was open.
It is understood a decision was made to put the patient in an emergency ambulance to have the procedure done in Cork. However, the drive to Cork can take two hours. He is believed to have suffered cardiac arrest around the Dungarvan area.
He told his wife: "I love you and I'll see you in Cork", as she was due to meet him there.
"The HSE and the Health Minister never gave my brother a chance. He'll never get to see the baby," his grieving sister said last night.
"Life was only starting to get good for him and he'd been working so hard, and he loved his wife.
"If he had a pain in his chest on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, he'd still be alive.
"They lived about eight minutes away from the main hospital in Waterford," she added.
The incident is expected to reopen the debate about the need for a second permanent cath lab in the south-east of the country.
It was confirmed last week that the hospital is to get a mobile cath lab as a temporary measure.
Last year, an independent report commissioned by the Department of Health said there was no need for a second cath lab, although it recommended more investment for existing facilities.
Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan - who made a second cath lab a condition of his support for the Government - said the current arrangement continued to be "deeply flawed".
He said: "Existing cardiac services in the south-east are not on par with the rest of the country.
"Patient safety is being compromised while cardiac services in Waterford and the south-east are under-resourced.
"I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Thomas Power at this awful time. I also acknowledge the efforts of the ambulance service personnel who worked so hard to save his life."