Dr Mary Lehane, who died recently aged 69, was a founder member of the European Malignant Hyperthermia Group at its inaugural meeting in the University of Leeds in 1983.
Mary studied medicine in University College Cork and graduated with MB, BAO , BCh degrees in 1970. After anaesthetic training in Cork she was elected to Fellowship of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She was subsequently appointed senior registrar in the Birmingham group of hospitals and returned to Cork in 1978 to take up the position of Consultant Anaesthetist in Cork University Hospital where she played a key role in establishing a new intensive care unit. This was followed by setting up a collaboration on the in vitro diagnosis of malignant hyperthermia with Jim Heffron of Cork University’s Department of Biochemistry where the pig was in use as a research model for MH. After the initial EMHG meeting in Leeds a formal MH centre for Ireland was established in Department of Biochemistry. Mary was active in the in vitro diagnosis of MH until her retirement in 2009 and she attended many of the regular meetings of the EMHG in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Members of the MH units will remember Mary’s quiet and unassuming disposition combined with her clinical and research excellence; her research publications on MH in collaboration with Tommy McCarthy and Jim Heffron and numerous members of the EMHG have appeared in the leading anaesthesia and genetics journals and Nature. Mary was a valued member of Cork University’s Medical School where she also lectured in the Department of Pharmacology. She was honoured by the College of Anaesthetists in Ireland in 2007 receiving the President's Award for her major contributions to anaesthesia and patient care and her role in education and MH research.
Outside of anaesthesia Mary had an intense interest in gardening and was a primary mover in developing Cork University Hospital’s gardens. She was an avid follower of rugby union, in particular, attending Munster’s many successes in Europe notably in the Heineken Cup. She bore her final illness with great courage and bravery and kept in contact with her university colleagues to the end. Her sister and five brothers survive her.