The Westmead Hospital anaesthetist with a very big heart

Westmead Hospital anaesthetist Ann Marie is a real hero.

When anaesthetist Dr Ann Marie McCallum isn’t supporting major surgeries at Westmead Hospital, she ventures into some of the poorest countries to help the sickest.

The busy and ambitious clinician volunteers her time with Mercy Ships, an organisation providing free surgeries and healthcare for poverty stricken patients, mainly in West Africa.

Ann is involved in major surgeries for people that have developed horrible diseases because of their poverty.

She reflected on a facial reconstruction for a very unwell patient.

Dr McCallum (far left) on a mission in 2013. [Photo: Michelle Murrey for the Medical Journal of Australia].

“This patient’s tumour was a big as their head because they didn’t have access to healthcare,” Ann said.

“In Australia, the tumour would have been taken out when it was the size of a pea.”

Ann said she has gone on seven overseas missions so far.

“I’m going back to Senegal in September for my eighth,” Ann said.

“We are the only people that can provide major surgeries to these people, because they don’t have the resources in their own country.

“That’s why I get so much out of it. It’s the most rewarding thing I do and they are some of the best weeks of the year for me.”