A new face is about to join the Heart of Australia team of on-the-road doctors delivering specialist medical treatment to bush Queenslanders, thanks to an unexpected case of … wait for it … goosebumps.
As soon as he gets back from the latest of his several-times-a-year charity clinics in his birthplace of Sri Lanka and in the UK, gynaecology/obstetrics specialist Kanapathippillai Sivanesan – “just call me Siva”- will start regular visits to the West on our now-famous clinic-on-wheels.
The jolly, 44-year-old father of three studied and practised for 12 years in Britain before moving to Burnie in Tasmania. With his wife, Rizana, and their three children, Siva settled in Brisbane just three years ago.
He works in public and private hospitals in Ipswich and, he says, he’ll “absolutely” stay on the roster for bush town work helping to man Heart of Australia clinics.
Siva loves his medical specialties because of the “huge difference” in patients’ lives that can be achieved. “It’s just so rewarding – helping Mums to safely bring babies into the world. There’s just no price you can put on that.”
He’s quietly happy, too, that helped by generous sponsor donations of equipment for his Sri Lankan charity work, he can also make a difference to lives where he was born and where his mother still lives.
Of the Heart of Australia program, Siva says: ”Such a lot can be done. People don’t have to wait months, or drive hundreds of kilometres, to have any fears (about pregnancy progress) addressed.”
So what about those goosebumps? Siva makes no bones or apologies about “getting goosebumps” as he watched one of the ABC Australian Story reports featuring Heart of Australia founder Dr Rolf Gomes.
Soon after that, Siva was in a hospital café when he saw Dr Gomes walk by – “and I ran to him”. The rest, as they say, is (becoming) history.