Westmead Hospital bids farewell to gifted eye surgeon and “outstanding human being”

Dr Kenneth Lee says he’s learnt Australians have a good mix of hard work and lots of play.

Another well-trained retinal surgeon is leaving Westmead Hospital to share their finely-honed skills with the rest of the world.

Dr Kenneth Lee returns to Malaysia on Saturday 18 September, having completed a 12-month international vitreoretinal fellowship at Westmead Hospital.

Vitreoretinal surgery includes everything in the eye behind the lens, treating a range of conditions and diseases such as detached retinas, cancer and advanced diabetes.

“If you think of it like a camera, the retina is the film. If you want to get a good image you need to make sure the film is fine,” Dr Lee said.

“When you get older you really need two things: sight and mobility. Of all the senses you want to have throughout your life, sight is the most important.”

Dr Lee said he was inspired to specialise in vitreoretinal surgery by his time working in Borneo. The lack of local access to support made him pursue a specialty in which he could make an immediate difference.

“It’s been brilliant to work with world-class ophthalmologists at Westmead Hospital. I was really fortunate to be given the opportunity of a lifetime,” Dr Lee said.

“The camaraderie among the staff is really amazing. I think Australians have a good mix of hard work and lots of play as well.”

Dr Kenneth Lee returns to Malaysia having completed a 12-month international vitreoretinal fellowship at Westmead Hospital.

His supervisor Professor Adrian Fung said Dr Lee comes from a long line of vitreoretinal fellows who become consultants and pass on their skills around the world.

“In terms of professionalism, he’s been absolutely outstanding and is very well loved by everyone in the department. He communicates really well with all staff and has a lot of empathy I think for the patients, which is very important,” Professor Fung said.

“Hopefully some of the things that he’s learned here he’ll be able to teach other fellows and grow more of the future generation around the world. I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s been a very good asset and we certainly will miss him a lot.”

Dr Jessica Xiong, May Ng, Dr Kenneth Lee, Freda Vosdoganis, Francil Ubana, Lorraine Reyes and Molly John

Dr Lee said Professor Fung’s dedication to academic excellence inspired him to never stop studying.

Anaesthetist Dr Freda Vosdoganis was also full of praise for her departing colleague.

“Kenneth has made an immense contribution to our ophthalmology service and the wider hospital community,” Dr Vosdoganis said.

He is not only a gifted surgeon, he is an outstanding human being who offers hope, kindness, reassurance and generosity unconditionally and without fanfare.”

“Without request for assistance, Kenneth will help to push beds, position patients on the operating table and even clean the room between cases. His patients will often address him by his first name as he prefers, their faces always light up when they hear his voice as he greets them on their arrival into the anaesthetic room. And he will always ensure to follow up each patient individually on their return to recovery and the postoperative ward.”

Besides his surgical training, Dr Lee said he also learned a new life skill in Australia: swimming.

Learn more about the Westmead Hospital ophthalmology service here.