Auburn Hospital cardiologist, Associate Professor Richard Haber, at his retirement send-off. Photo by Courtesy WSLHD Corporate Communications
A NARROW escape from death during the Holocaust became the catalyst for a medical career that spanned more than five decades.
Auburn Hospital cardiologist, Associate Professor Richard Haber, retired last week after treating almost 40,000 patients over a long career and spoke publicly for the first time on his difficult childhood in the Krakow Ghetto in Poland.
He described how they had several brushes with the Nazi regime during WWII.
"To survive we moved to many places illegally. At one stage, we lived for months in Poland with false documents stating we were Christians," he said.
"After the war, we moved several times from Poland to Paris where I attended different schools."
Arriving in Australia with his parents as a 16-year-old, Professor Haber went on to study medicine on a scholarship before starting working at Auburn in 1963.
"Auburn Hospital was originally a cottage hospital," he said.
"It was then rebuilt into a bigger hospital and it was here that I was appointed as one of the first staff members.
"I've seen many changes over the years in healthcare within the technological and pharmaceutical advancements such as the introduction of ultrasound, MRI, CT scan and PET scan equipment – in addition to the x-ray."
The father of three has also treated patients at Prince Henry, Prince of Wales and Westmead hospitals and provided some heartfelt advice to young clinicians on his final day.
"I encourage young doctors' to enjoy the intellectual stimulation and advances of medicine which will lead to better health."