Dr George Gayagay takes time out at Albury Hospital, where he has been practising as an orthopaedic surgeon since March. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
ORTHOPAEDIC surgeon George Gayagay has taken his skills to south-east Asia and across Australia before arriving at Albury-Wod-onga Health in March.
Dr Gayagay completed his orthopaedic training in Sydney last year.
He is looking to combine working for Albury Wodonga Health with surgery and teaching in Third World countries including East Timor and his native the Philippines.
He met Border plastic surgeon Greg McCarten in Canberra in 2010 while completing a fellowship, ahead of several months in locum positions from Bundaberg to Albany and Kalgoorlie.
“I got to know Greg, together with my fiancee, who is training to be a plastic surgeon, and he told me about Albury,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful place and everyone has been so good — it’s conducive to work,” he said.
Dr Gayagay, whose fiancee and family remain in Sydney, returns to the Border on a week-on-week-off basis and consults two days a week at rooms in Vermont Street, Wodonga.
“I also do the fracture clinic at Albury hospital on Mondays with the resident staff specialists,” he said.
Dr Gayagay has a key interest in hip and knee joint reconstruction.
In East Timor, many patients believe the most appropriate form of orthopaedic surgery is amputation, in order to avoid the consequences of infection.
His inspiration has been Dr Grace Warren, the veteran Australian surgeon and missionary renowned for her work with leprosy patients.
Dr Gayagay was born in the Philippines, but grew up in Malaysia and Japan before moving to Australia with his family.
He began an engineering degree but switched to a medicine program, partly thanks to the influence of his mother, who had a nursing and teaching background.
“I was never taught orthopaedics,’’ he said.
“I had some training in general surgery and vascular surgery but I had to beg a term in orthopaedics and liked it.
“My interest in East Timor means I would like to do some teaching as well as surgery there.
“I will deliver a lecture next week to doctors in the Philippines and I hope to do the same thing in East Timor.