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Outgoing President and ‘polymath’ Prof Liam Plant praised

By James Fogarty - 18th Feb 2024


The outgoing President of the Irish Nephrology Society (INS) was commended as an inspirational colleague, mentor, and role model at the Society’s recent Winter Meeting.

Dr Michael Clarkson said that Prof Liam Plant, who is due to retire from his position as Consultant Renal Physician in Cork University Hospital (CUH), had made major contributions to Irish nephrology.

Dr Clarkson described Prof Plant as a “polymath of renal medicine”.

Prof Liam Plant

“He is good at everything,” Dr Clarkson said. “And he is good at everything because he knows so much, because he reads so much.”

There were many people at the meeting who owed Prof Plant a debt of gratitude for inspiring them to take up nephrology, he added.

“He has been a great mentor to many of you in this audience.”

In his address, Dr Clarkson paid homage to his CUH colleague of 19 years.

He told how, as a young man, Prof Plant had won the individual prize at the Irish Times’s debating competition.

“This is normally the preserve of attorney generals and presidents of the High Court,” said Dr Clarkson.

“The key to a successful career is a successful and happy life and I think Liam has been remarkably successful in both,” said Dr Clarkson, referring to Dr Plant’s wife, Sheila, a GP, and their three children.

Dr Clarkson said that when Prof Plant started work in CUH, there was one consultant, one nurse specialist, and the dialysis unit was in a “portacabin out the back”.

“Since that time, we have developed remarkably. We hope to be at seven-and-a-half whole-time equivalents by the end of this year. We have a fantastic physical facility. It’s a beautiful place to work. A lot of you know that the groundwork Liam put in in his early years was really remarkable and brought this to fruition. But Liam’s greatest achievement is not the bricks and mortar, it’s the cohesive team that he’s built.

“I think that’s been built on truly mutual respect between all of the specialties: Nursing, allied health professionals, and that’s the ethos of our department. And I think that’s why we’re such a happy little bunch down in Cork. That leadership comes from the top. That mentality and ethos comes from Liam’s contribution and we have to keep that going when he leaves,” said Dr Clarkson.

Prof Plant epitomised the characteristics of a great clinician and academic: “Someone who believes in what they do and commits to it.”

“But not only that. It is somebody who relentlessly questions what they do, tries to improve things, and tries to make things better,” said Dr Clarkson.

“I am an immeasurably better doctor for having worked with Liam. I am very grateful for that.”

At heart, Prof Plant was an educationalist, said Dr Clarkson, who had contributed enormously to undergraduate education in University College Cork, and through mentoring.

“He is so in demand as a speaker in Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere because his talks are brilliant. They are an amazing combination of the erudite and the often hilariously funny. You’d be hard pushed to find a better speaker.”

As well as his clinical and academic skill, Prof Plant was “super company” and great to work with.

“He’s been a remarkable friend,” Dr Clarkson said, providing “wise counsel and friendship”.

“But Liam’s greatest legacy is the legacy of care he provides to his patients. As a patient if you found yourself sitting in Liam’s consulting room, you were sitting opposite a master clinician. But more than that, you were sitting across the table from someone who really truly cared for you,” said Dr Clarkson.

“He is a remarkably kind person and remarkably generous with his time to his patients and their families,” said Dr Clarkson.

“As much of a loss as he is to the wider nephrology community in Ireland, the loss to Cork is immeasurable and we will miss him.”

A presentation was made to Prof Plant at the meeting.

Earlier in the day, Prof Plant had opened the meeting, welcoming everyone to Tullamore. He thanked the organisers of the meeting for arranging a “fantastic programme”.

Incoming INS President Prof Donal Reddan asked the meeting for a round of applause in recognition of Prof Plant’s contribution to the specialty and to healthcare in this country.

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