Letterkenny doctor hailed as hero in America

Letterkenny native, Dr Ronan Margey.

A RECRUITMENT embargo is preventing highly trained cardiologist based in the USA from returning home to Ireland.

Donegal native Dr Ronan Margey (34), a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine, living Connecticut, was recently featured in the Irish Times.


The feature told the heroic story of how the Letterkenny man saved a man’s life with ground-breaking operation during Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.

Dr Margey was on duty in Hartford Hospital, Connecticut, shortly after the storm when a 64-year-old man presented with a heart attack and his ‘prognosis was very grim’.

Through his work as a cardiologist, Dr Margey had heard of an experimental percutaneous (inserted through the skin in the groin) right mechanical heart device made by Abiomed, a Massachusetts medical devices company which has a facility in Athlone.

Dr Margey was given an emergency use exemption by the FDA and sourced the device from the company within two days given the urgency of the man’s condition. “If I was able to get this pump into the heart, it would give him the best chance of recovery,” he recalled.

The device was inserted into the right side of his heart using a catheter placed via a vein in the patient’s leg; it remained in place for six days until his heart had fully recovered.

The Letterkenny man got a first-class honours degree from UCD and spent two years working in Beaumont Hospital and three years in the Mater.

He left Ireland in 2009 to carry out advanced scholarship training in the US as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and stayed on another year to study minimally invasive techniques to replace heart valves.


He and his wife, who is also a doctor, intended to stay two years and return to Ireland, but the economic situation at home makes that impossible for the moment.

The recruitment embargo means talented consultant doctors cannot return home no matter how well qualified they are.

“We’re products of the Irish system. There has been a huge investment in us. I always aspired to be a consultant back home.

“Like other colleagues of mine, I’m in these big hospitals abroad with these international reputations doing all this extra training with no jobs to get back to.

“It would be nice to give something back for all the time and effort that was invested in us. I spent six years in medical school and eight years as a non-consultant hospital doctor.

“It is disappointing having put ourselves through the ringer with all the extra training and there’s just no job to go back to,” said Dr Margey.

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