Daughter joins surgeon for last op

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 09:23 28/05/2012
surgeon stand
KELLY HODEL/FAIRFAX NZ
Emma Blair, with her dad, Ross Blair, who performed his last operation – with her by his side – at Anglesea Procedure Clinic last week.

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A respected Waikato doctor is retiring his scalpel and scrubs and waving goodbye to the operating theatre after nearly four decades as a vascular and thoracic surgeon.

Ross Blair, 70, has done "too many surgeries to put a number on" and performed his final surgery at Hamilton's Anglesea Procedure Clinic with his daughter by his side on Friday.

"I've had a wonderful career as a surgeon," he said. "It has been one of the great privileges of my life."

The former head of surgery at Waikato Hospital asked his daughter to join him in the operating theatre as his anaesthetist and she made the trip from Auckland to be there.

"It was a lovely to have her here," he said. "I am very proud of her as I am of my sons."

Emma Blair was happy to work alongside her father and said his work was "all right".

She said it was a little nerve-wracking to be in theatre with her father but he managed to calm her as only a father can. "He's the only one who has poked his tongue out at me during surgery," she said.

Dr Blair began his surgical career in 1973 and has spent the bulk of it working in the Waikato.

"I was born in Waikato Hospital and I worked there so I'm Waikato through and through."

At one time Dr Blair said both his daughter, Emma, and one of his sons, Damon, were there as his colleagues. "It made it very difficult having three of us there – Dr Blair, Dr Blair and Dr Blair."

Dr Blair left Waikato Hospital to join the Anglesea Medical Centre to continue his work.

"I joined here because I thought that it is of value to the community," he said. "We have to try and contribute to society and put things back."

He said the development of advanced surgical tools that removed the need for invasive surgery has been one of the most important features he has witnessed in his time as a surgeon.

"With the advancement of technology we can do surgeries that we would never consider back when I first started."

Dr Blair said teaching and mentoring the next generation of surgeons was a vital element in the medical profession.

"I always hoped they would be better surgeons than me because if they are not then I have failed my job and that's what surgery is about, really."

Elton Smallman is a Wintec journalism student.

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- Waikato

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