Leading plastic surgeon found dead

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The Independent Online

One of Britain's leading plastic surgeons and the husband of actress Natascha McElhone has died after collapsing at his home, it was announced today.

Martin Kelly, 42, died from a suspected heart attack after being found in the doorway of his west London home last night by a doctor friend. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said the death was being treated as unexplained and a post-mortem examination is scheduled to be carried out tomorrow.

Dubbed the "king of rhinoplasty" in celebrity circles, he had two young sons with Ms McElhone, 36, who is pregnant with the couple's third child.

She was filming in Los Angeles when told of the news overnight and is expected to return to London shortly.

Paramedics who arrived at Mr Kelly's home tried to revive him but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where he worked as a consultant plastic surgeon.

Friends of Mr Kelly, who is widely reported to have reconstructed the nose of socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, said today they were devastated by the news.

Media commentator Roy Greenslade, who is Ms McElhone's stepfather, said family, friends and colleagues were in "complete shock" at the death of "a truly magnificent man".

"He was a truly magnificent man as a surgeon, as a father and as a husband," he said.

"As well as being a brilliant doctor, he painted, he wrote his own music as well as being a great sportsman. He was just terrific and a true Renaissance man."

Mr Greenslade said the couple were looking forward to their 10th wedding anniversary.

British actress Ms McElhone has starred in films including Ronin, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Truman Show and the TV series Californication.

Peter Butler, who was given the go-ahead to perform the UK's first full face transplant in 2006, knew Mr Kelly for more than 12 years.

The consultant plastic surgeon, who works at the Royal Free, said: "It's a massive loss.

"He was one of the most capable plastic surgeons Britain has ever produced.

"He was reaching a stage where he was emerging on the world stage and, obviously, we are quite devastated.

"He was an enormously gifted surgeon but there were so many different facets to his interests.

"He was very, very talented in so many ways, in music and art, and he was very much liked because of it."

Mr Butler and his wife, Annabel Heseltine, spent time with Mr Kelly and Ms McElhone.

"Myself and Annabel knew them as a couple very well, he was godfather to one of my sons.

"Natascha is in LA with the children. She is making arrangements to come home."

Mr Butler said Mr Kelly had "achieved all of the milestones" in terms of his age.

"He was one of my partners at the London Plastic Surgery Associates, which is a unique practice in the way it was set up," he added.

"He was one of the leaders of the profession."

Mr Kelly was educated in Paris and at Winchester College in the UK before studying medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School in London.

He graduated in 1989 and continued his surgical training in Oxford and London, becoming a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1993.

At the time of his death, Mr Kelly was a consultant plastic surgeon at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

During his career, he was awarded a travelling scholarship to carry out research in microsurgery and facial reconstruction at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where he spent two years.

Mr Kelly published more than 30 papers on plastic surgery and presented his work across the globe, including in the US, France, Mexico and China.

He was co-founder of the Facing the World charity, which helps children in the poorest countries have access to face surgery.

The charity said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the tragic death of one of our co-founders, Martin Kelly.

"Our thoughts are with his family, to whom he was so devoted.

"He was a gifted surgeon, a passionate humanitarian, a dedicated family man and a friend.

"His ethos, passion, enthusiasm and humour will remain cornerstones of Facing The World and we are even more committed to fulfilling his vision of helping children marginalised by communities as a result of their facial disfigurement."