News Archive: Aug 2016

From globetrotting to lifesaving work – on a truck

Posted on 23rd August 2016

Maria Abrigo2

After a year and thousands of kilometres on the road with Heart of Australia, cheery Maria Abrigo says she is “immensely enjoying” a working life a world away from what she was used to as a globetrotting executive assistant to the CEO of an international nutraceutical company.

Even before the Spanish-Chinese Maria graduated with a degree in biochemistry from university in her home city of Manila, in The Philippines, she already had been appointed as a senior marketing executive with the Japan-based Sun O International – the start of 18 years for her with the company.

It was only after the death of the Sun O founder and CEO in 2009 that Maria decided on a change.  In 2010, Maria headed for Australia to spend time with her mother, Nenita – who just happened to have migrated to Townsville.

After a stint with local government in Manila, Maria set off back to Townsville to pursue a post-graduate degree in Biomedical Science as part of a placement in the Townsville Hospital’s cardiac department – where a cardiologist introduced her to Heart of Australia.

Now, Maria has her Mum with her in Brisbane and she says her life’s “going wonderfully great”.  In fact, Maria drives the whole circuit for other staff in a Bayer support vehicle, piloting the Heart of Australia semi-trailer and warning the rig drivers of any road problems ahead.

For Maria, among the highs of her work for the past year on the road is “being amazed at what can be done with the heart” and the “overwhelming appreciation of the people” turning up for Heart of Australia clinics.

Maria hopes that “one day soon” the same potentially life-saving equipment used in the travelling clinics in Queensland will be available in The Philippines.

Interview with Peter MacDonald

Meet our international medical students on board

Posted on 23rd August 2016

This month we’re extremely fortunate to welcome two very accomplished international medical students to Heart of Australia Caroline McBurney and Nadja Kutchke. Here they introduce themselves:



I am very excited to be joining the Heart of Australia team for the next two weeks! Originally from Brisbane, I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at Bond University and am currently going into my final year at St. George’s University of London Medical School at the University of Nicosia.

Throughout my time at medical school, I have been involved in a number of research projects and this year had the opportunity to present at an Obstetric Emergencies Conference and the Pantheo and Midland Ophthalmological Society (UK) Annual Congress. I am also actively involved in the mobile clinic at my University and am the current President of the Mobile Clinic Club. My experiences with the Mobile Clinic have shown me firsthand how important it is for rural and remote communities to have access to healthcare services and this has instilled in me a passion to learn more about rural medicine. 



Nadja Kutschke2


I’m Nadja a medical student from Berlin, Germany. Currently I’m in my 4th year and there is still so much to learn.

What interests me most about my studies is how to bring medicine and good health to the people no matter where they are. Earlier this year I worked right in the middle of the Amazonas in a small clinic with a native tribe. Now I´m coming to Australia to see a different approach of how to make medicine available for all.

And I can´t wait!