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The Legacy of Fred Lives on in his people

The Legacy of Fred Lives on in his people

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Dr Ruit examines the eyes of his patients in Nepal


Pioneering Kiwi eye surgeon and humanitarian Professor Fred Hollows died 15 years ago today, but his legacy lives on in the many eye doctors and nurses that have been trained to continue his sight-saving work throughout the world.

Dr Sanduk Ruit, an internationally renowned Nepalese ophthalmologist, is perhaps the most lauded of these. Since training under Fred in the 1980s Dr Ruit has received international acclaim for his service to humanity, in his own country and further afield. His latest accolade is Thailand's Prince Mahidol Award, which he is the first Nepali to win.

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the longest reigning monarch in the world today, presented the prestigious award to Dr Ruit last week. The award comprises a medal, a certificate and US$50,000.

Dr Ruit, who has personally performed more than 70,000 sight-restoring operations and passed his surgical techniques and systems to many other developing countries, trained hundreds of surgeons and health care personnel throughout the developing world, was honored for his contribution to public health.

But Hollow's work is not only continuing in far off countries such as Nepal, his legacy lives on closer to home in the Pacific.

Solomon Islander and ophthalmologist Dr John Szetu works for The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ. Based in Suva, Fiji, he is training urgently needed Pacific eye nurses and doctors how to perform cataract surgery and to treat and prevent other potentially blinding eye diseases and injuries.

“It is an honor to carry on the work of Fred Hollows,” said Dr Szetu.

“He was a great Kiwi and his belief in passing on skills to local people, to enable them to fight blindness for themselves, has changed the face of eye care throughout the developing world.”

"I am proud to be continuing his work in the Pacific," he said.

There are over 80,000 people in the Pacific who suffer from blindness, most of which is reversible. But without the trained personnel to restore their sight these people are destined to remain blind.

Internationally The Foundation has restored sight of over one million people and has trained over 700 eye surgeons and nurses.

Dr John Szetu will be visiting New Zealand at the end of February to talk about his work. For more information contact The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ at


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