Clare farmer dies from deadly ‘gas gangrene’, inquest told

Widow calls for greater farmer awareness on killer bug

A paramedic  said that at the scene Tom Whelan had earlier complained of a pain in his stomach. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

A paramedic said that at the scene Tom Whelan had earlier complained of a pain in his stomach. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

The widow of a 77-year old farmer who died shortly after contracting a killer bug has called for farmers to be made aware of the rare and deadly form of sepsis.

West Clare woman and mother of three, Irene Whelan was speaking at the inquest in Ennis into the death of her husband, Tom en route to hospital in an ambulance at Lack West, Kilmihil on August 15th last.

Mr Whelan’s jeep had veered off the road near Kilrush and emergency services were called to the scene.

Mr Whelan had no visible injuries and paramedic, Paul Daly told the inquest that within 10 to 15 minutes of him arriving Mr Whelan went into cardiac arrest and was unresponsive.

Mr Daly said that at the scene Mr Whelan had earlier complained of a pain in his stomach.

Efforts to resuscitate Mr Whelan from Cappa Drive, Kilrush failed and he was pronounced dead in the ambulance near Kilmihil. An air ambulance that had been called into to bring Mr Whelan to hospital was stood down.

The post mortem found that Mr Whelan died from sudden heart failure due to Clostridal Sepsis or “gas gangrene” in his system.

Consultant pathologist, Dr Gabor Laskai told the inquest that “gas gangrene” if it goes untreated results in death in 100 per cent of cases and even when treated results in death in 60 per cent of cases.

Dr Laskai said that “gas gangrene” can be contracted through contact with soil or animal faeces.

He said: “It is a very serious and very dangerous infection.”

Under questioning from grandmother of four, Mrs Whelan, Dr Laskai was unable to state how exactly Mr Whelan contracted the bug or how long it was in his system.

Mrs Whelan told the inquest: “The dangers of this form of sepsis getting into the system should be highlighted more for farmers because this was a perfectly healthy man doing his work five minutes before this.”