Professor Donal O'Donoghue

The centre and Donal’s contribution to renal care and research

Renal avatar

Professor Donal Joseph O’Donoghue (1956-2021)

Donal O’Donoghue was an inspirational leader in renal medicine in the UK. He studied medicine at The University of Manchester from where he graduated in 1980. Later he underwent training in internal medicine and nephrology in Manchester and Edinburgh, as well as a one year stay in Paris as a Medical Research Council research fellow. In 1992 he was appointed as a consultant renal physician at Hope Hospital (now Salford Royal Hospital) in Greater Manchester and later in his career he was awarded an honorary chair of Renal Medicine by The University of Manchester.

Early in his consultant career Donal realised that local and national renal services and patient care needed immediate and significant improvement. His organisational capabilities were clear when he established and directed (between 1998 and 2003) England’s first managed clinical network (Greater Manchester Renal Network).

He dedicated much of his professional career to standardising treatments and to improving the lives of patients with kidney disorders. In 2000 he became the inaugural president of the British Renal Society and in 2006 he was appointed to a highly influential role as the first National Director of Kidney Care at the Department of Health, a post that became his raison d’etre and during which he helped make many fundamental changes to improve the lives of people with kidney disease.

Marie O'Donoghue and Dr Andrew Goddard unveil a portrait of Prof Donal O'Donoghue

Other nationally important roles in renal services included:

  • Between 2006 and 2013 Donal led the implementation of the Renal National Service Framework
  • From 2016 to 2018 he was President of the Renal Association
  • Donal was awarded an OBE for services to kidney patients in 2018
  • He was the Chair of the Trustees of Kidney Care UK from 2016.

Donal’s impact on the kidney community was huge, and his contribution to national and international kidney care will be recognised for decades. Importantly, he changed the speciality from ‘numbers focused’ to ‘patient focused’. He was a strong advocate of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach to caring for patients, with mixed team integration of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and health-care managers. He was an excellent communicator, a patient listener and very much a team player.

Kidney specialists Professors Donal O'Donoghue and Phil Kalra

Donal was also an astute academic clinician and although his efforts during the last three decades of his life were focused on service redesign and optimising patient care, throughout this time he was a staunch supporter of research and academic development of the workforce. Donal was a key facilitator of the local research effort in the Salford Renal Centre.

The President of the Royal College of Physicians referred to Donal as the ‘big daddy’ of British renal medicine. After his very sad and untimely passing in January 2021 there were countless tributes; ‘The O’Donoghue Wall’ will exist in perpetuity at Liverpool’s Royal College Spine Building (unveiled by his widow Marie, above) and the UK Kidney Association have honoured Donal with the annual endowed ‘O’Donoghue lecture’, the first three awardees being Professor Sir Chris Whitty, Dame June Raine and our own Professor Phil Kalra (pictured above with Donal).

On a more local level, to honour Donal’s achievements, dedication to renal medicine and pursuance of the promotion of the best possible care and practice for kidney patients, the collaborative research effort of the Salford Renal Centre has now developed a clearer structure and has been inaugurated as the Donal O’Donoghue Renal Research Centre.

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