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11th December 2020
This page is dedicated to tributes for the late Prof. Tony Gershlick who passed away on 20 November 2020 from COVID-19.
If you would like to add your personal tribute, please forward your stories, photos and memories to BCIS@millbrookconferences.co.uk.
I have tried hard over the past week or so to find some way to articulate the personal impact Tony had on me over the years I knew him. It was back in 2002 I first met him, actually more in passing at Advanced Angioplasty as it was then, on the Lilly stand when he came to have a chat with Beccy about something or another… I don’t remember the details, but I do remember him laughing out loud to something I said. I think I felt a bit insecure at the time and unsure as to whether that was a good reaction or not! We next crossed paths at AHA in 2004, New Orleans, where I was truly blown away by his endless energy, thirst for knowledge and genuine care for his colleagues and friends. We had a lot of fun, Sunday brunch at Brennan’s, drinking a glass of fizz (when we could still do that) and enjoying some wonderful Jazz will always be a highlight, along with a slightly less cultural evening at Pat O’Brien’s drinking Hurricanes. He was already well on the way to completing the landmark REACT trial at that time. Here comes the honest exposure of my own failings, full disclosure, warts and all…… the really profound impact Tony had on me. It was an advisory board, Oxford, he was winding me up, teasing me over the quality of data for Reopro, provoking everyone round the table, generally being challenging. I behaved very unprofessionally and snapped, and said “well REACT, that was not such a great trial”……… what followed is one of those life lessons that I will never forget. He turned to me and said that patients volunteer to be part of something bigger than themselves, doctors put themselves on the line to push boundaries, nurses, statisticians, everyone who supports a trial does it for the benefit of humanity, and he pointedly said – who was I to even dare speak like that…….. He was so right, I felt humiliation and guilt, and I absolutely deserved it. The days that followed, in fact a couple of years, were not great – I had apologised of course, and he accepted that like a gentleman he was, but somehow I knew it was going to take an awful lot from me to repair that bridge. So I set about really thinking about everything I said, how it impacts others, what a privilege and honour it is to work in the business of healthcare and be humble. I truly owe a lot of my career to Tony. We gradually became friends again and in fact enjoyed many congress banter for many years plus the occasional odd email or text when he would ask me about how to get from A to B, or which airline/train to take – very random stuff!! I recall fondly how observant he was at the ESC in Barcelona 2012, when a group of us walked back to the hotel, he turned to me and said “Em, that was the 1st time in all the years that I have known you that you didn’t leave the table to smoke – did you ever realise how much we enjoyed conversations with you and that would all end abruptly for a fag!” I can honestly say I never had realised, and I never smoked a cigarette again! One of our last international meetings was the ESC in Rome, where he brought Kathy, and they were happy together, easy in each other’s company – it was lovely to see. When I look back at everything now the one word that perhaps resonates with me about Tony is Generosity – of spirit, knowledge, time, and he really cared………
– Emma van Eeden
Tony Gershlick was a wonderful man, and I still cannot believe he has gone. Tony has been ever-present throughout my career in intervention, and his loss is hard to take. I can still see him smiling, I can still hear him talking way past his time as the session chair shakes his head, or launching into another scribbled interpretation of Reverse-CART on the big screen. Tony made an unparalleled contribution to UK intervention through his innovation, research, and collaboration. He was a force of nature. But he was also a great bloke – one of those people who, whenever I saw him for the first time at whatever conference or meeting, made me feel happy just to be with. I’m so pleased that BCIS was able to give Tony the first ever Lifetime Achievement award, and I wish he was here to see how just how much he is loved. Thanks for everything Tony.
– Dr Dan Blackman
Tony gave me the one and only break in my short Cardiology career when he took me on as a Hospital Practitioner in Cardiology at Glenfield Hospital Leicester in 1990. I did a weekly session in his outpatient clinic for several enjoyable years. His infectious enthusiasm for the subject had me hooked early on and he regularly took time out to teach the finer points of the subject so dear to his heart. I remember feeling very daunted coming from a GP background but with his help and patience he instilled in me a confidence that enabled me to feel a valued member of his team.
His sparkling wit and deep compassion for his patients was always evident and it was easy to see how he built up the loyal following that he did amongst patients and colleagues alike.
My last memory and indeed last meeting with him was after a jazz concert we attended one evening at The Musician in Leicester. We had not met for several years and he was somewhat preoccupied having just discovered that he had left his car in a dodgy car park and returned to find the gates securely locked. Despite this, he welcomed me warmly and we reminisced briefly about our time together.
I was shocked to hear the news of his passing and can only gain a degree of comfort in the knowledge that he died in his beloved Glenfield hospital surrounded by his loving friends and colleagues.
RIP Tony you were one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of knowing.
– Richard and Sue Moriarty
About two years ago, Tony was hosting his annual CTO day course. It was the usual highly educational, slightly chaotic, day and Professor Ochiai from Japan was getting towards the third hour of a twice-failed proximal RCA occlusion. He took a picture of the artery and demonstrated a knotted mass of wires with heavy dye staining. There was a short silence after which Professor Ochiai made encouraging noises about being not far from success. Tony looked at this fluoro image for a while and then said “you know when I was first training in angioplasty, that image that you have just shown would have been the most discouraging and alarming cine you could have wished to see during an angioplasty procedure, and yet here we are thirty years later looking at the same image and anticipating imminent success! It just goes to show that sometimes in a career things really can go full circle”. I loved the comment and laughed out loud because of course he was absolutely right – it was a very perceptive remark which only he had the perspective to see.
– Prof. David Hildick-Smith
I first meant Prof Gershlick when I was a relatively green, junior registrar about 10 or 11 years ago. I was attending an NSTEMI meeting in Denmark. I was the only trainee from the UK in attendance, and at the end of the first day I was at the dinner reception, feeling decidedly out of my comfort zone. I was, I recall, nervously eating on my own. Prof Gershlick, who was the keynote speaker that day, had spotted me, probably looking uneasy, and despite him having a group of people speaking with him at the time, politely excused himself and came over to speak with me. We had never met, or spoken, but I of course knew of him very well. He then spent an hour or so speaking with me, asking about my background, my interests and my career plans (which I had limited information to give him at the time!). He also commented how he could tell that I had ‘poshed-up’ my original London accent, recounting that he was a proud Essex boy from Southend and often tried to do the same, and then reassured me to always be comfortable in my own skin! It was a chance meeting, that left a powerful imprint on me, his generosity with his time, the sincerity of his words not to mention the kindness of seeing me out of my depth and coming to my aid remain a vivid memory. That initial conversation led to numerous conversations, email dialogue and impromptu drinks at meetings we attended. I subsequently worked with him on a number of projects and he remained an important mentor for me throughout my training and beyond. I sought his advice when applying for consultant positions, where he meticulously poured through and edited my CV and applications. When I was appointed, he emailed me to saying “I am so excited for you and your future. Congratulations”. I will remember Prof Gershlick very fondly, as a pioneering interventional cardiologist and researcher, but most importantly as a kind, generous man with a unique enthusiasm and selflessness. I am hugely grateful for that chance meeting a decade or so ago. May he rest in peace.
– Dr Kalpa De Silva
I had known Tony for more than thirty years and met quite frequently at international conferences. Many have already spoke of Tony’s love of jazz. He was himself an accomplished jazz saxophonist.
One of his favourite professional jazz saxophonists was the American giant, now himself passed away, called Michael Brecker (of the Brecker Brothers) – possibly, possibly, a distant relative of mine.
I met Tony, quite by chance, in the cloakroom of the Royal Festival Hall during the interval of Michael Brecker concert. Tony assumed I must be closely related to Michael – it gave him such deep pleasure to think he knew a relative of his hero that I never corrected him too vigorously!
I will miss Tony terribly.
Attached – photo of the late Michael Brecker, Jazz Saxophonist and one of Tony’s heroes
– Prof. Stephen J.D. Brecker
Attached is a photo from when Prof Gershlick did the Friday ACI 2020 live case with us from Derby. He loved the sax montage.
We’re all cut up because he so was so supportive to us all.
He went completely above and beyond when supervising my MD (a typically ‘ambitious’ project!)
The theme about Tony, and I think the reason people are so upset, is that he really was extremely generous with his time, very ‘inclusive’ of others (irrespective of their standing or status) and quite simply was great company and fun. However, as Nick said he took his role as a mentor and supervisor very seriously- he was a truly inspirational trainer. He always sounded delighted to hear from you, and highly interested in you, whenever you rang him up (although he probably wasn’t always delighted). I think that’s evidence of a real regard for others.
– Dr Damian Kelly
Here’s a picture of Tony and I from a few years ago. This was him, I say no more.
Missed. So much yet to do. So much yet to learn from him. (We were working on the RAPID NSTEMI trial & covid ACS international registry at the time of his premature death).
Rest in Peace, Tony
– Prof. Chris Gale
I’ll remember him for all the support he gave everyone, from junior doctors on CCU, new trainees with their first time in the lab, and other consultants. He was always keen to try new ideas and was a key developer of the adult cardiology service at Glenfield and East Midlands, supporting development of the ACHD service and broadening of structural/ adult congenital intervention. Great to hear and meet at conferences where he was always keen to hear what former trainees and colleagues were up to. Will be missed by many.
– Dr Simon MacDonald
Tribute to a Great Friend and Mentor, Professor Tony Gershlick
It’s a very sad day!! I went to work today and had a telephone call, a dreaded call……. My mind couldn’t function for a while. I felt stunned and devastated. It was a call from Glenfield Hospital Leicester breaking the news that my mentor Professor Tony Gershlick was no more with us. He had been ill in ITU after contracting COVID-19 a few days ago. Unfortunately he could not make it and lost his battle against the disease.
He was a father like figure to many of us including my five other cardiologist colleagues at Royal Derby Hospital. In particular, he was the one who transformed my career in cardiology. I worked with him as a Specialist Cardiology Registrar at Glenfield Hospital. This was the best time in my training. He played a pivotal role in teaching clinical and non clinical skills in cardiology, most importantly “How to do coronary angioplasty and stenting” procedure. I represented him in multple national and international cardiology meetings and conferences. I was also fortunate to assist him in a PCI procedure shown in “Tomorrows World,” a TV program telecast on BBC in 2002. In this procedure we pioneered the world’s first implantation of the drug eluting stent in man at Glenfield Hospital Leicester. Later, I had the privilege to do complex cases with him that were telecast live nationally.
This year (January 2020), Derby was selected as the centre to do complex Left Main Stem PCI with rotablation using new technology and stent dedicated for left main coronary artery disease. I did the procedure as a leading operator. Professor Tony Gershlick was the moderator for this case. His moderation and commentary was instrumental and increased the educational quality of the presentation.
His support of the Derby cardiology department has been phenomenal. He was here with us when I did the first rotablation in Derby in 2009. His contribution to research in the field of cardiology has been revolutionary. He was the Princiapl Investigator of ELUTES trial which was one of the first two trials on drug eluting stents. After this trial, it became possible to do the PCI in very complex coronary artery disease, making PCI a preferred and clinically better treatment compared to the coronary artery bypass surgery. This has lead to save thousands of lives all over the world. He has been the architect of many more pivotal clinical trials in the field of cardiovascular medicine. He was a renowned speaker in National and international cardiology conferences and meetings.
He has been the mentor of many of my colleagues in cardiology. He has supervised hundreds of cardiology trainees in completing their MDs and PHDs who are now serving in this field both nationally and internationally.
He was a thorough gentleman with ingenious professional skills and an exceptional personality
Indeed, I am short of words to explain the great loss of a very caring friend who was also my mentor.
He shall be greatly missed by all. He has left a big vacuum, which will be difficult to fill……………
May his soul rest in peace!
Professor Tony Gershlick at Royal Derby Hospital 24 January 2020
– Dr Tariq Azeem
This is a silly thing probably. However…. A couple of years ago at one of Tony’s excellent Leicester CTO courses, he was working the room in his own inimitable style as we looked at some terrible case or other. I was relatively near the back (probably late) and the front benches were occupied by some younger and more attractive cardiologists. Tony caught my attention by saying something like: “Well, we have some senior and very experienced interventionists in the room. Andrew – what do you think?”. I was knocking 50 at the time, but I felt a distinct thrill that Tony G considered me a senior and experienced interventionist, so much so I probably said something totally inane!
– Dr Andrew Sutton
He was an interventionist cut from different cloth. There was no aggression or one-upmanship from Prof. On the CCU and in the cath lab he was a kind educator. He made time.
– Dr Gareth Squire
Tony Gershlick was an amazing person, seasoned cardiologist and a kind supervisor. My last meeting with him was on 31/10/2020 and his last reply to my email was on 12/11/2020. I worked with him in cat lab at Glenfield H for an year as interventional fellow. After having few sessions in cash lab with him early this year he shared the attached photo on his twitter account after asking me to do so. On quite few stressful occasions in cash lab I found him to be a smile spreader on gloomy and stressed faces. He was readily available. He was a huge figure in interventional cardiology but was down to earth. I found him supportive and encouraging. He was funny. May his soul rest in peace.
– Dr Zia Ullah Jan
Recently we so tragically lost to COVID one of the true godfathers of cardiology and a genuinely wonderful person, Professor Tony Gershlick. I have attached just a few photos of the countless memories I have of him.
I was one of the huge number of fellows who had the privilege to be supervised by him during my research and to work with him on some of the countless clinical studies and training courses he organised.
This news has left so many of us completely devastated and it is no surprise that in addition to his family and friends, much of the international cardiology community is in mourning. He will be sorely missed by so many.
RIP Prof G…
– Dr Nikesh Malik