Tim McGahan lost his battle with pancreatic cancer just two years after his brother died from the same disease.
Tim McGahan lost his battle with pancreatic cancer just two years after his brother died from the same disease.

‘Remarkable’ surgeon loses cancer battle

Respected surgeon Tim McGahan is being remembered not only for the lives he's saved and dedication to his patients, but also as a devoted husband and family man.

The 61-year-old vascular surgeon, who died of pancreatic cancer on April 20 just two years after his novelist brother Andrew passed away from the same disease, was known for "slipping out quietly" from family functions to perform emergency surgery.

His brother-in-law, John Hudson, recalls Dr McGahan disappearing from family events and not returning until the next day.

"You would then read about a car crash or someone who had been rushed to hospital," Mr Hudson said.

"Tim had saved the lives of many motorcycle riders."

But Dr McGahan's son Will, 29, who is also a doctor, said his biggest memory of his dad was how "extremely present" he was with the family, despite having so many work commitments.

"Even though he'd very often have to be called away to help someone in a very dire situation, he was remarkably present with us despite that," Will said.

"That's something that as I've progressed in my own career I've only started to understand the significance of. He did it seamlessly, effortlessly."

Will said his father was involved heavily with various sporting clubs involving his three children - including Anna, 32, an actor, and Mike, 30, who works in the music industry - as they were growing up.

"He was president of our swimming club and took us to countless swimming carnivals and sporting events, along with mum," Will said.

Tim McGahan with wife Robyn, and kids, Anna, Mike and Will at home in Highgate Hill. Pic: Supplied
Tim McGahan with wife Robyn, and kids, Anna, Mike and Will at home in Highgate Hill. Pic: Supplied

"He also loved the outdoors, and took every opportunity to take us camping or on a 4WD adventure."

He was also welcoming to his extended family, and embraced his children's partners with open arms.

Mike's partner, Kate O'Loughlin said it was "an absolute honour" to have called him family.

"The world has lost a remarkable man," she said.

"Gracious, kind and humble till the end."

Tim McGahan has been remembered as “kind” and “humble till the end”.
Tim McGahan has been remembered as “kind” and “humble till the end”.

Dr McGahan, who was born and grew up in Dalby, met his wife Robyn, a physiotherapist, while they both studied at the University of Queensland. He was a resident of St Leo's College, and she lived at Women's College.

They were married for 35 years.

Dr McGahan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on May 8 last year.

Will described the day of his father's diagnosis as "the worst day of our lives".

Dr Tim McGahan (second from the left) at the Mater Private Hospital Cardiovascular Unit. Pic: Supplied
Dr Tim McGahan (second from the left) at the Mater Private Hospital Cardiovascular Unit. Pic: Supplied

"We knew the minute he got the diagnosis that this was a terminal disease," Will said.

"I've been involved in looking after quite a few patients with the same disease. It was a script I'd read before, as had the rest of the family, including dad."

But Dr McGahan and his family made the most of his time left, swimming with whales, off Mooloolaba, on the Sunshine Coast, and a road trip to North Queensland among treasured memories.

Dr McGahan was appointed director of the Princess Alexandra Hospital's vascular surgery unit in 2019.

It was in this unit in 1996 that he performed Queensland's first endovascular repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This procedure was able to be done via a tiny cut in the patient's groin, rather than a major 40cm incision on the abdomen.

Tim McGahan with family at home in Highgate Hill. Pic: Supplied
Tim McGahan with family at home in Highgate Hill. Pic: Supplied

The non-invasive operation involves threading a stent through a blood vessel in the groin up into the abdomen to repair the aneurysm - a life-threatening ballooning at a weak spot in the artery wall.

Dr McGahan referred to the procedure as the surgical equivalent of "building a ship inside a bottle".

He helped train many Queensland doctors during his career.

"I have worked with Dad as a junior doctor," Will said.

"What I would say, and I think what every other person who's trained and operated with him would say is, that he was never flustered.

"He was so calm even when the situation wasn't calm and he was the master of his craft. He passed that on to countless others."

The McGahan family is raising money for the Pancare Foundation. The funds will go towards much-needed research.

To donate: https://timmcgahanpancare.com/

Originally published as 'Remarkable' Brisbane surgeon loses cancer battle



Police ‘find marijuana’ after push bike crash

Premium Content Police ‘find marijuana’ after push bike crash

Emergency services were called to Gladstone Central on Tuesday afternoon.

Woman spat at nightclub patrons after being kicked out

Premium Content Woman spat at nightclub patrons after being kicked out

Emily Hampton pleaded guilty to two charges.

Gladstone man granted work licence after drug-drive offence

Premium Content Gladstone man granted work licence after drug-drive offence

Shawn Johnson admitted to smoking cannabis before driving.