A life well-travelled helping others

by KinCare — 9 September 2020

Our Customer Dr Anthony Radford has had a colourful medical career. He met Prince Charles and Mother Theresa, held a medical clinic on the Amazon River, taught Burmese students on the run from the militia, worked among refugees on the Thai-Cambodia border, and published two books!

When his granddaughter, Sophie, who works for KinCare, recently gave us the scoop on some of the amazing things her grandfather has achieved in his lifetime, we went straight to the source to get the full story.

Anthony felt the calling to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and become a doctor when he was a teenager.

“Dr Paul White, a missionary doctor known as the Jungle Doctor came to speak at our school assembly and what he said just resonated,” the 83-year-old recalls.

This encounter led Anthony to pursue a career he has loved for more than 60 years, only hanging up his stethoscope five years ago. Right from the start, he developed a passion to make a difference through medicine.

“As part of my medical training I was sent to India. Seeing the poverty and lack of medical care there made me decide I wanted to work somewhere I could really help. I was then given a cadetship in Papua New Guinea (PNG), which I took – partly because there was some money involved and I had a girlfriend, I wished to make my wife!” he says.

“I worked in PNG on and off for 40 years and my whole family, including my three children, have lived there.”

Throughout his career, Anthony travelled to over 45 countries to provide some sort of medical assistance, from conducting life-saving surgeries to teaching aspiring medical students. His work and travels have inspired him to write two books – Singsings, Sutures and Sorcery and Have Stethoscope Will Travel.

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He’s also worked in some of the most challenging situations one can imagine.

When asked about some of those difficult moments, Anthony says: “Probably having to do surgery with no real surgical training. If there wasn’t enough time to get someone to the hospital in Port Moresby in PNG, I’d have to do procedures like caesareans or amputations myself. I had an orderly with a book reading out the instructions. It was a bit like following a recipe!”

While he was in PNG, Anthony met Prince Charles. “It was in 1966 when he was still a boy. He was studying in Australia and came to stay with a local family. Just before his arrival, one of the teachers arrived with a jar of dead bugs asking me to identify them to ascertain whether they were any risk to his Royal Highness. They weren’t! I eventually met him walking along the Kokoda Track. One of the other boys had been bitten by a snake earlier that day and he was fascinated by snake bites, so we talked about that.”

Anthony has many achievements to be proud of, but he nominates “helping change the way medicine is taught in Australia” as his proudest work.

“When I was at medical school you weren’t taught about general practice, or even really about the common diseases. In 1974, I and some other leading doctors started to change that. We were the first to do it.”

With such a love of spreading knowledge, Anthony finally stopped teaching only last year. Not quite content to relax completely, he admits he has a new project in mind.

“Right now, I’m deciding whether to write a third book – there’s still a lot to say.”