An Appreciation

Mon, Jan 21, 2013, 00:00

Gerry Brady: When Gerry Brady died on December 30th, 2012, Ireland lost a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon. Gerry was multi-talented. A Blackrock College student, he was a national swimming champion and narrowly missed an Olympic nomination. Graduating from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1949, he moved quickly into orthopaedics, first taking his Royal College Fellowship in 1953 and then moving on to the Royal Northern hospital in London and later to Liverpool, where, in 1955 he was the first Irishman to take the M Ch(Orth), a higher qualification granted by the world-famous Liverpool School of Orthopaedics.

Ignoring the advice to young surgeons that they should “marry late – a wife and children being hostages to fortune”, he married Deirdre (Dott) Rowan in 1953. They went on to have five successful children, one of whom (Angela) is president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, while Owen followed his father into orthopaedics.

When Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children opened in 1956 Gerry was appointed orthopaedic surgeon. For the first six months he was the only surgeon on site, giving backup in the surgical department as well as laying the foundation of a new orthopaedic department in a fledgling 350-bed hospital. Within five years he was handling 1,200 admissions a year, apart from serving a busy outpatient department. He published a definitive report on fractures of the elbow in children in 1965 and followed it in 1968 with an account of the treatment of fractures in Jervis Street hospital where he had joined the staff in 1961.

Initially there were no arrangements in place for the payment of consultant staff in Our Lady’s Hospital, but when these emerged in 1957 Gerry undertook responsibility for monitoring the distribution of funds, a role he undertook for several years. His patient persistence ensured that the funds were seen to be fairly distributed.

He excelled in clay pigeon shooting and was on Irish Olympic teams twice – in Mexico (1968) and in Munich (1972). His surgical reputation extended beyond the boundaries of medicine and in 1967 he reported to the British Veterinary Association on the steps which should be taken to develop surgery for fractures of the long bones in horses.

Highly respected among his colleagues, he was president of the Irish-American Orthopaedic Association in 1979. Retiring from hospital practice in 1985, he enjoyed great success as a dry fly fisherman on Lough Sheelin and as an accomplished member of the shooting fraternity. Professionally his major accomplishment was the establishment of a very successful orthopaedic department in Ireland’s largest children’s hospital.

His wife Dott and their children Roma, Zoe, Angela, Owen and Jackie will miss their family legend. – Prof CONOR WARD