I’ve been a GP in St Ives for 45 years. It’s the area I grew up in and when I started out, it was a very new suburb, with houses being built and young couples moving in. Over the years, my patients have grown older along with me. One of them was a plastic surgeon, who was keen on helping out people with cleft palates and lips in Nepal, along with a team of anaesthetists and nurses. Gradually this built up to close to 100 operations over a couple of weeks every year, so he invited me to come with him. My job was to make sure that the patients were fit for surgery and to deal with any medical complications afterwards like chest or skin infections. But I also had to look after the team who inevitably came down with local tummy bugs. When I arrived at the hospital, the first thing I would be met with was a sea of 100 or so Nepalese faces with cleft lips and palates, which was pretty overwhelming. People would walk for days across the mountains to us. You would have thought the surgeons were operating on a Hollywood star, based on the care they took and the results they got. It was amazing. Now I’m semi-retired and I haven’t been to Nepal for a while, but I’ve got a few more adventures in me yet.

Dr Jim Pollitt
Sydney, NSW