Family’s tribute to Belfast doctor after sudden death at age 54
The family of a respected Belfast doctor who died suddenly last weekend has praised his "humility, kindness and generosity".
Dr John Gray (54) passed away after becoming ill on Sunday evening.
The married father-of-three had been working as a consultant in the emergency departments of the Ulster and Lagan Valley Hospitals.
His family said they were "devastated" by their sudden loss.
"He was the rock of this family - a man who showed humility, kindness and generosity until his last breath," they said.
"John spent his days saving lives - the rest of the time he made life better for his wife and children who he adored and his wider family.
"It seems a cruel irony that a man who helped so many in their hour of need could not himself be helped when he became seriously ill on Sunday evening.
"While his death leaves a huge hole in our lives that will never be filled, we know his final wish to donate his organs has transformed the lives of others - a final act of generosity that will continue to be an example to his children."
Dr Gray grew up off the Antrim Road in north Belfast and attended Ben Madigan Prep and Belfast Royal Academy.
He followed a family tradition in studying medicine and he qualified from Queen's University Belfast in 1996.
Before this, he had already completed a biochemistry degree at Queen's College in Oxford.
He also did reconciliation work at Corrymeela and helped young offenders.
He first joined the Ulster Hospital emergency department in 2002 where he met his wife Sarah, who worked as a nurse.
His career as a consultant started in the Mater Hospital in 2008, later moving to the South Eastern Trust in 2016.
His colleague Alister McIlwee is the associate clinical director of emergency medicine for the trust.
"The staff in South Eastern Trust are greatly saddened at the sudden death of John," he said.
"We will remember him as an outstanding clinician, a brilliant colleague and a true gentleman. He was passionate about teaching, inspiring younger colleagues both medical and nursing.
"John was very family-orientated and we can only imagine their grief. The emergency department staff are very grateful from the offers of support and condolences from across the other emergency departments in the region."
A book of condolence is to be opened today in the Ulster Hospital's emergency department.
Dr Eoghan Ferrie is an emergency consultant with the Belfast Trust.
"The news of John's death has come as a shock to the emergency medicine community in Northern Ireland," he said.
"His wife, Sarah, and his family are very much in our thoughts at this sad time. John was a highly-valued member of the team in Belfast where he started his consultant career. He had a gentle, caring nature and was always committed to patient-centred care. He was a friend and colleague who will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure to know and work with him."
A committal will take place at 10am tomorrow in Holy Trinity Parish Church Graveyard, Ballylesson.
This will be followed by a thanksgiving service in St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Rosetta Road in Belfast, at 11am.
Donations in lieu of flowers have been requested to The Orchard Children's Home, Pucallpa, Peru.
Cheques are payable to McClure's Donation Account c/o McClure's Funeral Service.