Dr. Kevin Thomas McDonagh

Born in New York, NY on September 14, 1958

Departed on December 23, 2017 and resided in Nashville, TN

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Kevin Thomas McDonagh

Dr. Kevin McDonagh, age 59, died peacefully at home on Dec 23 following a long and courageous battle with cancer that he fought together with his wife, Dr. Leslie Crofford, who loved him more than anything.   He is survived by his parents, Dr. Thomas J. McDonagh and Helen Drury McDonagh, and his siblings, Thomas (Elisa and Stephen, Timothy, Michael, Julia), Eileen (Andrew Cardone), Brian (Karen and Patrick, Christopher, Gregory), and Patricia (Fred Palumbo and Freddie).   Kevin was born in the Bronx, NY and raised in Bellerose Village on Long Island.  He was educated at Columbia University and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, loving the time he spent in Manhattan.  His Internal Medicine training was completed in St. Louis at Washington University’s Barnes Hospital where he met and married Leslie.  They moved to Bethesda, MD to pursue biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health and Kevin also completed his subspecialty training in Hematology.  After post-doctoral fellowship, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he studied the immunology of hematologic malignancies.  He moved to Lexington, KY to become Division Chief of Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplantation at the Markey Cancer Center of the University of Kentucky.  He was so grateful to his colleagues at UK for their care and concern during his illness.  After eight wonderful years in the Bluegrass, he moved to Vanderbilt University to lead programs in benign hematology and multiple myeloma.  He was a gifted clinician and educator who loved nothing more than working with students, residents, and fellows in caring for his patients.  In addition to his love of medicine, he was an avid golfer, fly fisherman, and photographer.  He and Leslie were fortunate to be able to travel extensively to pursue these passions together.  They also loved their 4-legged children, a series of beautiful Labrador retrievers, who brought great joy to their lives.  Kevin was particularly grateful to Leslie’s family, Oscar, Jane, David, Nancy, Stephen, Barb, Mattie, Morgan, Molly, Stephen Jr, Alex, and Gabby Crofford for their love and support during his illness.   His best friend John Klein of San Clemente, CA was a rock.  He was blessed with expert care from all of the professional staff at Vanderbilt including Debbie Wallace and Dr. Kimryn Rathmell, therapists at Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute Jen Meyer and Christy Barefield, and his art therapist Barb Crofford.  His caregivers Brenda Merritt and Patricia Ray were loyal and caring throughout his long illness and Craig Keene made sure his puppies were happy and healthy.  Services will be private but gifts in Kevin’s name may be directed to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center or the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.

29 Comments to Dr. Kevin Thomas McDonagh

  1. Ari Padmanabhan, Lexington KY
    December 29, 2017 4:51 pm

    Heartbroken. I for one will be ever grateful for his mentorship and counsel. He was an extraordinary teacher and colleague. Will for ever cherish our golf outing and get togethers at the local beer hole after a month of slogging on the bone marrow transplant unit.

  2. Jill Sewell
    December 29, 2017 6:45 pm

    Dr. McDonagh was one of the most caring physicians I have ever met. He helped my husband Lee battle his lymphoma. He was patient and kind every step of the way. He also a wonderful teacher and helped guide me in my career at the cancer center. I will forever remember what a difference he made in both of our lives.

  3. Cathy Dudderar
    December 29, 2017 6:54 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I worked with him and Dr Crofford at Univ of KY. He was a wonderful man and a pleasure to work with. So sorry.

  4. Stephanie Thompson
    December 29, 2017 8:07 pm

    Dr McDonagh was my boss for many years, he was the most brilliant man I had ever met. He was the most distinguished man I ever met. He loved his patients and his fellows,and his career. This breaks my heart. He lived and treated the same people he died with, cancer patients. RIP Dr McDonagh.

  5. Mary Gray
    December 29, 2017 8:54 pm

    I worked with Kevin when i was the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Administrator for 3 years. He was always so kind, funny, and ingredibly smart. This is a tremendous loss to humanity. My heart breaks for his wife and family.

  6. Melissa Kesler
    December 29, 2017 9:33 pm

    We at UK mourn the loss of a gifted clinician, great educator, and passionate advocate for excellent patient care. Kevin’s intellect, clinical acumen and unflappable demeanor (and his sense of humor–still remember him joking that if I made him mad he would nominate me for the hospital Forms Committee) made working with him a pleasure. Although we were in different departments, I considered him a mentor, as did so many others.

  7. Croswell Chambers
    December 29, 2017 9:57 pm

    While the time seems so very short, it’s been an honor to have met Kevin. He was a phenomenal person whom I considered a friend. Kevin was full of wisdom and witty humor. He will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues.
    Leslie, Mara and I will continue to lift you up in prayer for comfort, peace and strength for today and the days that lie ahead.

  8. Michael Karpf
    December 29, 2017 10:01 pm

    Kevin was critical to putting the Markey Cancer Center at UK on the map. Kevin and Leslie were among my earliest and most critical recruits and they were instrumental to revitalizing UK. I appreciate both of them and will always remember and miss Kevin. Mike Karpf

  9. Susanne Arnold
    December 29, 2017 10:11 pm

    Kevin was a wonderful mentor and friend and a brilliant hematologist. I often remember his great advice, his wisdom and his kind smile and laugh. He is missed here in Lexington and we are all with you, in our shared grief.

  10. Jennifer Kurre Weber
    December 29, 2017 10:22 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this. I worked with Dr. McDonagh at Markey cancer center. He was a great physician and educator. I learned a great deal from him and will always remember him fondly. I pray for comfort and peace for his family.

  11. Mara Chambers
    December 29, 2017 10:29 pm

    While I am deeply saddened at the loss of such a great man, I am also extremely grateful to have known him, even for such a short time. Dr. McDonagh was an awesome teacher, and mentor. He was an excellent clinician, leader, and a visionary. The impact he has had on our department will be felt for years to come. He was blessed to have a wonderful life partner in Leslie. Praying for you!

  12. Jamie Wiggins Craig
    December 29, 2017 10:41 pm

    Saddened to hear this. Dr. McDonagh’s wisdom and commitment to patient care educated and impacted many disciplines within the medical field. He leaves a legacy on the UK BMT program, and I’m honored to have experienced and been a part of it.

  13. Elpidio Pena
    December 29, 2017 11:18 pm

    Kevin was a great clinician and educator. During my years at the University of Kentucky he was a mentor and a supporter of my career. He leaves a legacy of knowledge, professionalism, and above all friendship.

  14. Lindsey Sutton
    December 29, 2017 11:26 pm

    So saddened to hear this news. Dr. Crofford and their family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Suzanne Segerstrom
    December 30, 2017 8:55 am

    Kevin will be missed by so many, myself included. I remember his intelligence and wit and will be forever grateful for knowing him. Condolences to Leslie and the families.

  16. Suleiman Massarweh
    December 30, 2017 9:35 am

    Will always remember Kevin fondly for connecting me to Lexington and for where I am today. This is all so untimely and has affected me deeply. My heart goes out to Leslie and with much love and appreciation to Kevin.

  17. Cheri Tolle
    December 30, 2017 12:45 pm

    Kevin was a great man with a big heart and a wicked sense of humor. He and I worked alongside each other with the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network, and although he was my boss, he treated me as an equal. He was a mentor and friend to me, and I shall always be grateful for his kindness and guidance in my career. I have fond memories of laughing and discussing plot developments the next day after watching “Justified”…

  18. Alice Thornton
    December 30, 2017 12:57 pm

    Leslie, so sorry to hear such sad news. Thinking of you during this time.

  19. Ketan P. Buch
    December 30, 2017 1:07 pm

    🙏🏽 very sorry to learn about Dr. McDonagh’s passing. His compassion and his ability to educate crossed departmental silos and I am grateful for that.

  20. Sheila Currans
    December 30, 2017 1:27 pm

    I am so saddened to hear of Dr. McDonagh’s death. As an early affiliate member with UK Markey I saw him bring great passion to the care of patients all over Kentucky. Personally I found him genuinely kind. He had a great laugh and a loving spirit. My prayers for his family during this sad time.

  21. Adam Lye
    December 30, 2017 2:06 pm

    I will forever remember Dr. McDonagh as an instrumental part of my training both academically and as my mentor professionally. He was beloved by both his colleagues and Fellows at the University of Kentucky. I remember the sadness and disappointment that overwhelmed the department on the day that he tearfully announced that he was leaving for Vanderbilt as we knew he could never be replaced. I remember all the honest words and guidance he gave me not just with the science of medicine but also with the “business” of medicine. I cherish the times that he took me out for a beer after an arduous month or the times that he and Leslie invited my wife and I into their home as a thank you after another tough BMT rotation. I am sure I didn’t thank Dr. Kevin McDonagh enough before he left UK but looking back he was one of a handful of people that was truly transformative on my journey as a young physician. Thank you Kevin. You will be missed and you and Leslie are in my thoughts.

  22. Kelley Young
    December 30, 2017 4:42 pm

    I will always be thankful for Kevin’s teaching style and bedside manner. He was such a role model. I am sorry to hear of his passing.

  23. Ruth Adams
    December 30, 2017 4:58 pm

    Dr. McDonagh sheparded me through my post cancer treatment years until he declared me “cured” and sent me on my way. I am forever grateful for his guidance and care preparing me for and helping me deal with long term effects of cancer treatment. I am heartbroken to hear of his passing and to know that other patients dealing with cancer won’t have the benefit of his amazing bedside manner and wisdom. He always listened and heard what I said and always treated me with the utmost respect and compassion. The cancer world has lost one of its best.
    Ruth Adams (UK Markey)

  24. Galisa Watts
    December 30, 2017 6:20 pm

    No words can express the sadness that I feel for the loss of a great physcian, colleague and friend. I had the privilege of working with Kevin as his primary nurse for over 10 years at Markey Cancer Center. He took me under his wing as a young Oncology Nurse and was a great mentor. He believed in me and for that I am forever greatful. He impacted so many lives by taking the time to get to know them, especially his patients who appreciated that. My thoughts and prayers go out to Leslie and all his family.
    Galisa Watts

  25. Susan Smyth
    December 31, 2017 12:45 pm

    So sad to hear of the loss of this dedicated physical and special person, who touched so many lives. My thoughts and prayers are with Leslie and his family.

  26. MS
    December 31, 2017 2:20 pm

    Please accept my sincere condolences for your recent loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. I have always received comfort from the Bibles’ word at Philippians 4:7 which reads “and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus”.
    I hope you can receive comfort from these words as well. Margo Simmons

  27. Jim Morgan
    December 31, 2017 4:56 pm

    How lucky was I as a fellow at UK to be under the wing of such a brilliant, caring man and physician as Dr McDonagh? I am so sorry for his passing. May his light live on in those whom he has taught, influenced, and cured.

  28. Dianna Howard
    December 31, 2017 7:34 pm

    Kevin was an amazing mentor. I am so grateful for the time we worked together. He broadened my ability to think critically, to challenge the status quo, to listen in a more meaningful way. He taught me to have courage. He had bolder visions than many of his contemporaries; he championed change especially if it meant improving service to patients. Patients loved him. A patient came to see me in Winston talking about how special Dr. McDonagh was to him in Tennessee. Leslie, I hope you feel the sincerity with which so many have responded in sharing how Kevin touched their lives. There were some maddening times at Markey but Kevin built and led a team; and, everyone on his team knew he had their back. I’m sorry for your loss. Dianna

  29. Jeff White
    March 30, 2018 5:09 pm

    He saved my son’s life. Stage IV lymphoma at age 19. Forever grateful.

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