Raised in Ryde’s historic residence, The Hermitage, 94-year-old pioneering surgeon Dr Catherine Hamlin AC nee Nicholson has been named 2018 NSW Senior Australian of the Year.
For more than 50 years, Dr Hamlin, an obstetrician, has devoted herself to giving women in Africa a second chance at life.
Dr Hamlin and her late husband, Dr Reginald Hamlin, founded a network of six hospitals and a midwifery college in Ethiopia, providing free fistula repair surgery to
poor women suffering from horrendous and preventable childbirth injuries.
The midwifery college trains midwives to prevent the injuries. When Catherine arrived in Ethiopia in 1959, there were almost no resources for expectant mothers.
Since then she has treated more than 50,000 women, restoring their health and dignity. Through her foundation, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Catherine is tackling a new fistula frontier, Uganda.
Dr Hamlin remains active in her day-to-day work at the hospital, healing women through surgery, rehabilitation and counselling.
Having been awarded honorary fellowships in the medical associations of Australia, England and the United States and Australia’s highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, Dr Hamlin was touched to learn in late 2016 she’d been named after one of Sydney’s new ferries.
“I am so grateful. It really is lovely to know that so many people have tremendous love for our work and for our patients,” she said.
“I hope that this will help draw the attention of the world to this great need in Ethiopia for maternal healthcare. I want to help these women.”