Dr Reg Hamlin, co-founder of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, was a brilliant obstetrician-gynaecologist. His passion for medicine often lent itself to bemusing antics – yet it was this same passion that helped Reg and Catherine Hamlin establish the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and pioneer a refined surgical technique for repairing obstetric fistula injuries.
Outside the box
Reg was known for working hard, occasionally putting in 20-hour days; according to Catherine, “he was driven by a tremendous concern for each and every patient.” In her autobiography, ‘The Hospital By the River’ written with John Little, Catherine recalls working alongside Reg at the Crown Street Women’s Hospital at a time when chloroform was still used as an anaesthetic: “Reg would demonstrate the technique saying, ‘Always use care, prayer and plenty of air.’”
Reg’s great passion for teaching medical students didn’t stop the students from viewing him as a tad eccentric. His non-stop workload would often lead to bemusing mistakes: “one day when he was running backwards and forwards, he put the stethoscope on the woman’s abdomen and said, ‘Hamlin here.’ The entire staff burst into laughter.”
Bradman’s number one fan
As busy as his workload would be, Reg would always find time for his one true love: cricket. A cricket obsessive, Don Bradman was Reg’s (and all of Australia’s) hero. Unfortunately, the five-day format of Test cricket did not lend itself to Reg’s work at Crown Street – nevertheless, he still found a way to catch ‘The Don’ whenever he was playing in Sydney.
In ‘The Hospital By the River’, Catherine writes that “When the Tests were being played in Sydney he would have a hired car standing by and keep track of play on the radio on. When it was Bradman’s turn to bat, he would rush downstairs and dash off to the cricket ground. As he could never stay long, the car would have to wait for him so he could race back to the hospital again.”
Ultimately, Reg was a brilliant surgeon who was dearly loved by everyone who worked with him. His life’s work was spent caring for the most vulnerable women, believing that every woman deserves to deliver her baby safely. He would be so proud to see where Catherine has taken Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia today. You can help further the work of Catherine and Reg by donating today.