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Leading heart surgeon Maurice Neligan dies at 73

One of Ireland’s best known surgeons, Neligan performed Ireland’s first open-heart surgery and first heart transplant.

Image: UggBoy via Flickr

THE DEATH HAS OCCURRED of former Mater Hospital heart surgeon Maurice Neligan. He was 73.

Neligan, a former columnist for the Irish Times, was one of Ireland’s best-known medical professionals and known as a passionate campaigner for the improvement of patient services.

Educated in Blackrock College and UCD, where he graduated from Medicine in 1962, Neligan had been the first surgeon in Ireland to perform a number of landmark procedures: he performed the first coronary artery bypass graft in 1975, and Ireland’s first heart transplant in 1985.

He had performed the first open-heart surgery for congenital problems in 1974, and had served as a consultant cardiac surgeon in the Mater Hospital from 1971, and at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital from 1974, until his retirement in 2002.

Neligan was also a co-founder of the Blackrock Clinic.

Upon retirement he had taken a more active role in campaigning for improvements in the country’s health system, and had regularly criticised the health policies of health minister Mary Harney and former HSE head Brendan Drumm.

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Taoiseach Brian Cowen paid tribute to Neligan, saying that countless families in Ireland were grateful for his expertise. Enda Kenny said his opinions on health and politics would be missed across the country.

Mater Hospital consultant heart surgeon, Prof Freddie Wood, said Neligan ‘was the outstanding surgeon of his generation’, according to RTÉ, while Irish Heart Foundation chief executive Michael O’Shea paid tribute to how Neligan had pioneered cardiac surgery in Ireland.

Neligan, who died suddenly at his home in Blackrock, Co Dublin, is survived by his wife Pat and six of his seven children.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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