Escaped war and blossomed into a devoted doctor
The career of Auburn Hospital cardiologist and Holocaust survivor Associate Professor Richard Haber has been celebrated at a special ceremony today, after completing his final rounds.
The highly respected doctor has treated almost 40,000 patients during his 52 years of service.
Professor Haber was inspired to become a doctor and help people after his Polish family narrowly escaped death during the Holocaust.
He was just 10-years-old and working at his uncle’s GP as a receptionist in the Krakow Ghetto when he decided to pursue a career in medicine.
At the age of 16, Professor Haber arrived in Australia with his parents and achieved outstanding results at North Sydney Boys High School and later studied medicine under a scholarship.
In 1963, he secured a job at Auburn Hospital as a physician and later as head of general medicine and cardiology.
“Auburn Hospital was originally a cottage hospital,” Professor Haber said.
“It was then rebuilt into a bigger hospital and it was here that I was appointed as one of the first staff members.”
The dedicated doctor, who is a father of three, has also treated patients at Prince Henry, Prince of Wales and recently Westmead hospitals.
“I was always passionate about medicine and have received enormous satisfaction from my achievements in my profession,” Professor Haber said.
“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.”
Professor Haber spoke publicly today for the first time on his difficult childhood during the Holocaust.
“Within a day or two of having my appendix out my mother sneaked me out of the hospital at night as she had heard that everybody was going to be sent to their death the next day.
“After the war, we moved several times from Poland to Paris where I attended different schools.”
Professor Haber provided some heartfelt advice to young clinicians, as he departs Auburn Hospital for the last time.
“I encourage young doctors to enjoy the intellectual stimulation and advances of medicine which will lead to better health.”
Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Danny O’Connor congratulated Professor Haber on a remarkable career.
“My very best wishes to you Richard, you have been a pleasure to work with. Good luck,” Mr O’Connor said.