Joaquin Poal-Manresa: 1931 - 2002
In March last year our long-time friend and executive committee member of SECEC left us for ever, having never recovered consciousness from a serious stroke that he suffered at the beginning of the year. The loss of Joaquin (or Kim, as we tended to call him during our conversations in English) will be felt not only by his lovely wife and their children, for whom he was always the most caring father, but also by his profession in both Spain and the whole of Europe, for whom he was one of the most dedicated and respected members.
Everybody knew this good looking and charming Spaniard. The self-assuredness of his manner and the warmth of his deep voice promoted an immediate trust upon the first encounter, which was then reinforced by his extreme helpfulness and unsurpassable hospitality.
Born on 12.10.1931 in Barcelona, he graduated in his home-city within the shortest possible time (1956) after which he moved to the renowned Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, UK, to work firstly as a house officer and then as a senior house officer. During this time, he obtained a thorough orthopaedic training under the leadership of his world-famous compatriot Prof. Trueta and the similarly well known Professors Sommerville and RG Taylor. He remained there until the end of 1961, in the later years working in the Research Centre of the University of Oxford, supported by a Girdlestone Scholarship. During this time he effortlessly became at ease with the use of the English language and made numerous friends from the Anglo-Saxon world, with whom he developed lifelong friendships.
Back in Barcelona he worked firstly in children's orthopaedics, being employed as Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Paediatric Hospital of San Juan de Dios y San Rafael. Subsequently, his main interest centred around Surgery for Rheumatism, which he pursued as Chief Surgeon of the Orthopaedic Department of the National Rheumatism Centre Barcelona until last year.
In this position, Kim became extremely active in the field of continuing medical education, inviting luminaries from various subspecialties and from a number of different countries for the many symposia he organised. In doing so, he procured an active collaboration and exchange of ideas with numerous orthopaedic centres in Europe and North America, not just for his hometown but for Spain itself.
His wife Milagros, who was as charming and endearing as Kim was, was the ideal partner, when it came to spoiling guests with a most generous hospitality. In addition, as an outstanding simultaneous translator, she contributed enormously to the success of the symposia that Kim organised.
His national and international activities made Kim the ideal ambassador, when the need arose to convey the collective experiences of European professional societies to his Spanish colleagues.
At an early stage Kim was an active member of the newly founded ERASS (European Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgical Society) and the SECEC (ESSSE). The outstanding congress of SECEC, which he organised as Congress President in Barcelona in 1994, will remain an unforgettable occasion for us all. As a logical development from this, Kim founded the Spanish Society for Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, for whom he acted as president from 1995 to 2000.
It is no wonder that this remarkable man was also considered as a valued member of numerous, especially British, specialist societies. He was engaged as a Member of the Editorial Board for a number of important journals, such as the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, the journal of Arthroplasty and the Italian journal, Hip International - and all this, in addition to his respective duties for the Spanish professional journals.
With the departure of Joaquin Poal-Manresa, Spanish Orthopaedics has lost an important connection to the international orthopaedic world, and one that will be hard to replace.
And sadly all of us must say goodbye to one of our dearest friends.
Norbert Gschwend, Zurich