Well known eye surgeon and “true visionary” in medicine Prof Michael O’Keeffe has died.
The consultant ophthalmologist was heavily involved in the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) and a well regarded figure among medical and political circles.
Prof O’Keeffe was a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Mater Private Hospital and Beacon Hospital in Dublin.
He previously worked as a consultant at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, the Mater Hospital, the Rotunda and National Maternity Hospital. He was also a clinical professor of paediatric ophthalmology in University College Dublin.
In a statement, the IHCA said hospital consultants were “deeply saddened” at news of the death of Prof O’Keeffe.
“He was a true visionary in medicine and his leadership was invaluable, including as a founder member of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association 35 years ago,” it said.
“He is reunited now with his beloved son Philip Michael. Our deepest sympathy to all his family,” it added.
From Co Cork, Prof O’Keeffe was awarded the Claud Worth medal for contribution to paediatric ophthalmology by the British Child Health Foundation in 2004, and the Eustace medal in 2008 for his research in the field.
He was the brother of former Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East and minister of State Ned O’Keeffe.
Willie Penrose, former Labour Party TD who was a friend of Prof O’Keeffe, described him as a “thorough gentleman” and a “man of a brilliant intellect”.
The consultant had been at the “vanguard” of developments such as laser eye surgery in Ireland, he said. He was a “champion” of a strong public healthcare system, he said.
Prof O’Keeffe was “very generous with his time” and was “deeply committed” to the well being of everybody, he said. “Michael O’Keeffe treated you if you were a prince or a pauper,” he said.
“He would start work at 6.30am, he worked extremely hard ... He was one of my heroes,” Mr Penrose said.