Montage of Donal O'Donoghue photos

Tributes to Professor Donal O’Donoghue

Colleagues at the Northern Care Alliance have paid tribute to Professor Donal O’Donoghue. As well as the memories below, you can see more comments from the wider medical and renal community here.

Professor Phil Kalra, Director of Research & Innovation at the Northern Care Alliance and Renal Professor:

“Donal was a wonderful man who became a legend in our specialty. So many lovely pieces have been written about Donal’s magnificent national and international achievements underpinned by his unfaltering work ethic and charismatic personality. Here I would like to add my own personal . reflection on the person who was my great friend and colleague for almost 30 years.

Donal had many unique talents, one of the most captivating being that most people who spent any time in his company would soon feel that they had a friend for life.  He played a large part in the establishment of my own career and I am sure that there are many others who would say the same. In Greater Manchester it was Donal’s leadership that spearheaded re-configuration of our services, giving patients with kidney failure better treatment options, leading us out of the dark ages during which 50% of local dialysis patients received peritoneal dialysis as haemodialysis resource was so scarce. And Salford appeared on the UK renal map. It is in large part thanks to Donal’s vision and efforts in the Renal National Service Framework and then as National Clinical Director of Kidney Care that we have all seen major expansion of our renal services; I now work in a vibrant renal centre with 20 consultant colleagues, a far cry from our trio of the mid 1990s.

Myself, I hold treasured memories of time with Donal, with our families, social time during conferences and other shared passions. I am particularly grateful that, although we shared an office, my nose was never rubbed in the success of his beloved Red Devils at the expense of my team in white that had languished in the lower leagues for much of the last two decades. Together we even persuaded Sir Alex to sign an autograph to ‘My friends across the Pennines’!

We have lost a stellar figure of modern nephrology. But we have also been tragically deprived of a modest, loveable and inspirational person who brought light and warmth into many of our lives. Donal O’Donoghue’s memory will be cherished by me, by our colleagues in Salford, and by countless others who were touched by a unique gentleman during a remarkable life.

Rest in peace my dear friend.”


Dr Smeeta Sinha, Clinical Director of Renal Services at Salford Royal:

“Donal made a difference on a large scale, he had a huge impact on renal care in the UK and globally and was a real pioneer in making sure patients’ voices were heard.

Clearly he was very intelligent but it was his character that made sure his work had such influence. He built a harmonious, supportive, people-focused renal department here in Salford, where everybody is valued and can contribute.

He was a staunch supporter of women in medicine and opened up so many opportunities for junior colleagues. If there was an educational opportunity, he would make sure registrars as well as consultants could benefit and if you had a question he couldn’t answer himself – which wasn’t often – he would put you in touch with an expert, no matter how junior you were. He was a brilliant networker so he knew all the experts!

On a personal level, I’d known him since I became a renal registrar in 2004 and he was my first educational supervisor. He supported every single part of my career and always found time to encourage me even in the midst of his own projects.

He was good fun to be around too, he’d always have a story to tell, always remember what mattered to you and your family, and always greeted you with a smile – he was never irritated to be disturbed. If you needed help with something, he would find a way to help.”


Dr Bill Stephens, Consultant Diabetologist:

“Donal and I went back a long way, over 40 years.  He was one of the bright young house officers when I first came to the MRI as Senior Registrar back in 1978.  It was a pleasure watching his career as it went from strength to strength.  In more recent years he used me as a pair of critical eyes to vet his various applications and personal statements as he climbed an increasingly steep and slippery pole! May he Rest in Peace, a great loss.”


Dr Rachel Middleton, Renal Consultant:

“I have been lucky to work with Donal for the last 20 years, first as a trainee and research registrar and then as a consultant colleague. I am proud to work in the department he grew and nurtured. He put Salford on the map as a leading renal centre and built a strong cohesive team who are all devastated by his loss. His vision of kidney treatment close to home led to the development of the local kidney care centres we have today and embedded quality improvement and shared decision making at the heart of our practice.

Donal was rightly very proud of his OBE in particular for the nomination being for his service to patients. Getting the patient voice heard was at the heart of what he stood for. As a mentor over the years, I am indebted to Donal for the wise words, support and vision for myself, our team and nationally for kidney services. Donal’s legacy as a doctor, clinical director, national clinical director, president of renal societies, registrar of RCP is unparalleled, his ability to navigate through political landscapes was unique and yet he had so much more to give, all with his characteristic generosity and good humour

Donal would be the first to congratulate or offer support. He was a passionate advocate of our renal community and encouraged all trainees to extend their learning at national conferences. I will forever be amazed at his ability to be last up at the end of a long day and first at the conference the next morning.

Thank you Donal for all the support and opportunities you gave me over the years. My heartfelt condolences go to Marie, Kathryn, James and Daniel.”


Dr Tina Chrysochou, Renal Consultant:

‘’Donal’s achievements were phenomenal and inspiring. However, there were some personal attributes which made these even more admirable and deserving. It always stood out for me how Donal was able to connect people from every possible background, valuing everyone’s contribution to a cause. His contact list must have been enormous. As a new consultant, he was a prime influence in helping me set up the Young Adult Clinic by championing the service- user voice and thinking out of the box.  ‘If you want to know how a pair of shoes fit, ask the person wearing them, not designing them’ type thinking.  He acknowledged every email or message promptly, no matter how insignificant and always found a way to provide helpful and deeply insightful advice.

Donal’s name on a conference agenda would always pique interest and draw a crowd. He was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him or heard him speak. He was the natural choice of guest speaker for the Royal Society of Medicine, nephrology section’s first webinar, but it was the pre-meeting input into the content and avenues for discussion which I will remember for his passion, breadth of knowledge and ability to navigate the political landscape.

It is an honour to be part of such a cohesive, supportive and dynamic department and an absolute privilege to have been able to learn from and be inspired by one of the founding fathers. Donal’s vision and contribution to improving kidney services locally, nationally and internationally will always be embedded and remembered.

My heartfelt condolences go to his family and close friends. ‘’


Natalie Garratt, Head of Innovation:

“Donal was a lovely man, who always had time and a smile for everyone. He was committed to making the lives of patients better, through research and improving clinical care, and he has made a huge difference to the lives of countless people – both patients and colleagues. “

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