Doctor Ray's crusade to make a difference

EVERY four hours a mother dies during childbirth in Nepal alone, and no more than 30 minutes will pass before another Nepalese baby loses its life.

Just days, minutes, or even seconds after taking its first breath.

It is this devastating state of women’s health in developing countries, which moved our newly named Citizen of the Year, Dr Ray Hodgson, to make a difference.

“It’s so rare for a mother and a baby to die in Australia,” Dr Hodgson said. “I don’t know how we can look at ourselves in the mirror when we hear those statistics particularly when the vast majority of these deaths are preventable.” 

The local doctor has been recognised for his selfless work in establishing the life-saving, non-for-profit organisation Australians for Women’s Health (A4WH).

Dr Hodgson was in Nepal on a volunteer-aid mission when the Australia Day Award ceremony was held in Port Macquarie on Friday evening.

“Winning was a big surprise,” he said. “I didn’t think I would have a chance,,” he said.

When you consider the way Dr Hogson’s charity is transforming lives, it is easy to understand why the local gynaecologist and obstetrician has been recognised.

For 14 years, he has travelled to developed countries to perform life-transforming medical care. In 2010, he began Prolapse Down Under, one arm of A4WH which provides surgical treatment for women suffering from the debilitating and disfiguring affects of genital prolapse - a condition where various pelvic organs fall through the vaginal opening.

Soon after, he would establish Maternal Care, aimed at preventing needless maternal and neonatal deaths. Often working under torchlight in freezing cold conditions of the remote mountainous regions of Nepal, Dr Hodgson and his teams have worked tirelessly to transform the lives of disadvantaged women.

“There is a camaraderie among our volunteers that gets us through any of the tough conditions that are thrown at us.”

Surgical gowns have been cut up to provide surgical swabs, and they have used chicken incubators to warm intravenous fluids.

But at the end of the trip their often improvised and creative methods, will result in some 80 successful surgeries. 

“In Nepal 200,000 women urgently need prolapse surgery,” he said. “And they simply do not have enough qualified surgeons to perform these procedures.”

“Sometimes, you look at these women and you see your daughter or your mum, you would hate for them to suffer the way these women do.”

For more information, and to donate visit www.a4wh.org 

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