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Sean Vesey

1954 - 2015

Obituary by Stuart Lloyd, Consultant Urological Surgeon

Sean Vesey MB BCh BAO(NUI), FRCSI, FRCS, FRCS(Urol), FEBU was the lead laparoscopic prostate cancer surgeon for Merseyside when he retired prematurely in 2012, at the age of 58.

Sean Vesey

Born in Ireland, Sean qualified as a doctor at University College Cork in 1979. He completed his basic surgical training in Ireland between 1979-1984, having been awarded the FRCSI in 1983. He came to work in England in 1984 at the Institute of Urology in London, following which he continued his urology training in Taunton and Bristol. He was appointed Senior Registrar to the Merseyside rotation in 1988 where he honed his skills until his appointment as Consultant Urologist at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust in 1991.

He set up urology services in Southport and Ormskirk where he worked single-handedly as a Consultant for 5 years, covering all aspects of the specialty, a role that would have been inconceivable for most surgeons. He carried out his first laparoscopic nephrectomy in 1994, one of the first wave of surgeons in the UK to perform such innovative surgery. He became the lead laparoscopic surgeon for the Merseyside region between 2001 and 2013, and taught these skills to juniors and colleagues from all over the UK and Ireland. In 2007, with the national centralisation of cancer services in the UK, he moved to The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust to develop its laparoscopic service. Sadly, Sean was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in January 2011, a disease that he had spent his working life treating in his own patients.

He travelled to The Gambia with Mike Bishop and George Manolis for three consecutive years (2001 - 2003) as part of Urolink where they worked and taught at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Banjul. Sean loved these working expeditions where the caseload was very different and the extensive NHS funding and infrastructure did not exist, so the surgery often demanded creative surgical skills. It was also a wonderful opportunity to find further or alternative use for redundant equipment, which appealed to the technician in Sean. Above all, he hoped that their input empowered and enthused the local surgeons to further develop their urology services.

Clinical audit was an important element of Sean’s work. He believed diligent record keeping for every patient was essential for informing both research and future clinical practice in urology. He not only examined his patients but, where indicated, also performed his own diagnostic ultrasound scans. Both of these practices were then unique to urology and he led the motion for urologists to perform their own ultrasound scans, teaching and publishing extensively in both these areas .

Sean was an examiner at the Intercollegiate Board for the FRCS(Urol) from 2002 - 2011, and the Royal College of Surgeons Regional Advisor for Merseyside between 2002 and 2008. If you did not know the man, you would think that all of this was impossible. He was an active member of The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) and of the Irish Society of Urology. To mark his distinguished contribution to urology, he was awarded honorary membership of BAUS in 2013.

You can now forgive Sean for not being a scratch golfer. However, this never stopped him trying at Royal Birkdale Golf Club where he was a member from 1994, serving on Council (2008 - 2011) and as Chairman of Handicap (2009 - 2011). He spent his free time with family and friends, a keen cook, fisherman, golfer and skier and a regular attender at Anfield stadium in support of Liverpool Football Club.

Sean loved travelling to scientific meetings and learning from others. He liked to mix education with fun, often finding time for a visit to the best local golf course, usually leading several of his colleagues astray! It is most fitting that BAUS and The Urology Foundation are in the process of setting up a travelling fellowship in his name for trainee surgeons to travel and to learn more about the diseases they treat.

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