By John Carney
IF SOMEONE told you that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, had a good friend from Garrison most people would tell you to “Beat It”, but they’d be wrong.
Saturday marks the 13th anniversary of the legendary singer’s death when on June 25, 2009, he suffered a cardiac arrest caused by a fatal combination of drugs given to him by his personal doctor. But three years before his passing, noted plastic surgeon and dermatologist, Fermanagh native Dr Patrick Treacy, and the superstar became friends.
Dr Treacy took some time out from his busy schedule to reflect on the unlikely friendship and told how he first made contact with the pop icon when he walked into his Ailesbury Clinic in Dublin in August, 2006.
“Michael suffered from vitiligo (a long-term condition where pale white patches develop on the skin) and required camouflage pigmentation (treatment). He also had a scalp burn while singing his hit ‘Billie Jean’ for a Pepsi Cola commercial in Los Angeles when the special effects went wrong,” Dr Treacy explained.
“Three thousand fans saw a firework display erupt behind the superstar, showering him in sparks and setting light to his hair. We considered a hair transplant so he wouldn’t have to continually wear his wig. He also required some hyaluronidase treatment and I’m the doctor recognised for using this treatment for the first time.”
Dr Treacy looks back on his friend’s death with a mixture of sadness and regret.
“Ultimately, it was the loss of a friend whom I was only beginning to get to really know. We were due to go to Africa to arrange a HIV concert in Cape Town, and to Los Angeles to meet some of his other American friends,” Dr Treacy said.
Both men shared the same humanitarian interests, especially in Africa, and had been planning to stage a HIV charity concert in Cape Town. During these negotiations, at one point, Jackson passed the phone to Dr Treacy with none other than Nelson Mandela on the other end of the line.
“My most memorable day (with him) probably was while treating Michael’s vitiligo – Nelson Mandela rang him, and he handed me the phone. I thought it was a concert promoter calling about the HIV concert we were organising in South Africa. Michael put his hand to his mouth, hurriedly pointed to the phone, and said, “It’s Madiba!”
Born in the 1950s, Dr Treacy grew up in Garrison where his parents ran a shop, garage, and filling station. He has had no contact with Jackson’s family since his death, but the Irish cosmetic surgeon expects to be hearing from the singer’s adoring fans over the weekend.
“Many of Michael’s fans will contact me through social media, which is great,” he said.
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