BROKEN HEARTED

Zoe Connolly holding a pertinent placard outside University Hospital Waterford at the vigil held on Friday last just after 5pm, when UHW's cardiac services shut down for the weekend.  									| Photo: Mick Wall

Zoe Connolly holding a pertinent placard outside University Hospital Waterford at the vigil held on Friday last just after 5pm, when UHW's cardiac services shut down for the weekend. | Photo: Mick Wall


By Justine Dwyer
“Unforgiveable”: that’s how Catherine Power described the circumstances in which brother Tom died – in the back of an ambulance en route to Cork for cardiac treatment on Father’s Day that could have saved his life.
Tom, who was just 40, passed away in Dungarvan en route to Cork where he was to have a stent inserted given that the Cath Lab at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) remains closed at weekends.
Sadly, Tom never made it to Cork, leaving behind heartbroken wife Bernadette who is three months pregnant, and a family destroyed with grief. Mr Power’s remains were laid to rest following Requiem Mass at St Mary’s Church in Ballygunner on Wednesday last (see News 6).
But it’s the ongoing fight to provide 24/7 cardiac care for Waterford and the South East that has kept the family going over the past devastating week, Catherine told The Munster Express on Sunday last.
“In some ways it hasn’t hit us yet but we are broken hearted,” she said. “We have had so much to do, arranging the funeral, neighbours calling in, that I don’t think it’s really sunk in. I think it will really hit us in the next few weeks that he’s not coming back.”
Tom, of Belle Lake, was working on his farm when he started getting chest pains at lunchtime on Sunday week last, June 18th. He drove himself into UHW where he received medical attention.
However, because UHW’s Cath Lab only operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, it was decided to send him by ambulance to Cork to have the necessary treatment.
Catherine Power stated: “We have so many questions that haven’t been answered but one thing we do know is that if the doors of that Cath Lab had been open we they could have done the stent there and then and he would be alive and at home now. The nurses and doctors at UHW did the best they could for him but they are working against the system.”
Although the family didn’t attend the vigil outside UHW on Friday evening, Catherine said they were delighted with the support they have received. “The turnout was great but people don’t know until they lose a loved one in these circumstances what it actually feels like. We can’t let this happen to another family.”
And she went on to criticise An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar for failing to reach out to the family. “He didn’t even pass on his condolences. There are people dying on the side of the road in ambulances and he is not addressing it.”
In relation to the 88 minute window in which cardiologists say you have to save a cardiac patient’s life, Catherine maintains it can’t be done.
“If you are bringing a patient from Waterford to Cork, you will not do it and have the procedure done in 88 minutes. It took us three hours to get down there on Sunday with traffic. The only solution to this is 24/7 cardiac care.”
Tom’s death is something Catherine nor her family will ever get over, she contended. “Ballygunner Graveyard has become our new home. We were up at the grave today and I said to my mother, he’s so close but so far away.”

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