Top honour for dedicated surgeon

Dr Andrew Gatenby. Picture: Simon BennettWhile Australia Day might be time for a barbie, wearing patriotic attire and debating the Triple J Hot 100 List, it’s also the day to recognise the best and brightest of Australia society.

One such bright spark is local medical expect Dr Andrew Gatenby.

On Monday, Dr Gatenby was named in the Order of Australia for his services to the field of medicine, specifically colorectal surgery, and to the community of the south west.

‘‘The honour has blown me away, I didn’t expect it at all,’’ he told the Advertiser.

‘‘It caught me completely by surprise.’’

Dr Gatenby was nominated by his colleagues for the honour, which was awarded to only 156 people across Australia this year.

The Mount Annan based surgeon, who will turn 70 next month, underplays his many achievements in the field and community, which include establishing colorectal services in Campbelltown and Camden hospitals, forming the South-West Colorectal Surgical Group in the 1990s, assisting in the development of Campbelltown Hospital as a teaching hospital in the 1980s, helping establish and serving on the council of Macarthur Anglican School (‘‘against all odds it’s now a successful and flourishing school’’), and developing Anglican churches in Narellan and Minto.

‘‘I thought I was just doing my god-given job to the best of my ability and touching the lives of people with bowel cancer,’’ Dr Gatenby said.

‘‘I’ve been passionate about providing the best type of medicine I can, doing what I do with the highest level of compassion and care that I can.

‘‘This award should be shared with a team of very good people that I’ve worked with; there are a whole lot of other people that have made great inroads to improving colorectal services in the area.

‘‘With a team approach we’ve improved the services in the south west quite a bit.

‘‘I think the award was only offered to me because I’ve been here for so many years!’’

Dr Gatenby said he was among the first in his field to recognise the benefits of treating bowel cancer with radiation and chemotherapy, and still works with patients on the early treatment of bowel cancer, though he is considering bringing his surgery days to an end.

Starting his career in Sydney Hospital, Dr Gatenby has practised in Tanzania and the UK before returning to Sydney and taking a position at Campbelltown Hospital in 1978.

‘‘At the time Macarthur was a very new community with lots of new people coming in, and I wanted to make a difference in the community — I’m proud to be involved in the Macarthur medical industry,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve seen the hospital grow over nearly 40 years, it has been very special.’’

Dr Gatenby lived in Leumeah for fifteen years before settling in Mount Annan, and describes himself as a ‘‘very proud Macarthur resident’’.

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