Fred Hollows Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Early Life And Education
Frederick Cossom Hollows was born on April 9, 1929, in Dunedin, New Zealand. He was one of the four sons of Joseph and Clarice Hollows. For the first seven years of his life, the family lived in New Zealand. Hollows attended the North East Valley Primary School and later went to Palmerston North Boy’s High School. After high school, he went to study at the Victoria University of Wellington, from which he received his Bachelor’s degree. Hollows briefly considered a life in clergy and studied at a seminary, but later decided against it. During his time at the seminary, he was doing a lot of charity work and observed doctors at a mental hospital. This experience led him to choose a career in medicine, and he enrolled at the Otago Medical School.
Fred Hollows was a member of the New Zealand Alpine Club. He made several ascents to the Mount Aspiring in Central Otago. In 1951, Hollows met Edmund Hillary in the Tasman Glacier, where Hillary was practicing for his Everest climb. During the 1950s and 1960s, Hollows was also politically active as a member of the Communist Party of New Zealand.
After finishing his studies in 1961, Hollows went to England to study ophthalmology at the Moorfields Eye Hospital. He did his post-graduate training in Wales and 1965, moved to Australia. There he became the associate professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The same year, he became the chair of the ophthalmology division and oversaw the teaching departments at the university, as well as the Prince of Wales and Prince Henry hospitals. He held the position until 1992.
During the 1970s, Hollows began working with the Aboriginal communities, in particular, the Gurindji people at Wave Hill and other isolated New South Wales towns. His main concern was the high number of Aborigines with eye conditions, especially trachoma. In 1971, he and his colleagues set up the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, Sydney. In later years, he assisted in similar establishments of medical services throughout Australia. In 1976, Hollows organized the establishment of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program, which was funded by the government. With this program, he spent three years visiting Aboriginal communities and provided eye care as well as carried out research on eye defects.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Hollows made several visits to foreign countries, to help people suffering from eye conditions and to train local technicians to perform eye surgery. In 1985, he went to Nepal, two years later, he made a trip to Eritrea, and in 1991 he visited Vietnam. In Eritrea and Nepal, he organized intraocular lens laboratories, so that the lenses would be locally available at a low cost.
In 1992, The Fred Hollows Foundation was launched. The foundation is aimed to provide eye care for the poor and underprivileged and to improve the health of indigenous Australians. The foundation is also registered in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Fred Hollows married to Mary Skiller in 1958. Unfortunately, she died in 1975. She and Hollows had two children together. After her death, Hollows married for the second time in 1980 to Gabi O’Sullivan. The couple had five children together.
Hollows was originally New Zealand citizen, but in 1989, he adopted Australian citizenship. In 1985, he was presented the honorary Officer of the Order of Australia award, but he declined. In 1991, after gaining his Australian citizenship, he accepted the honor of Companion of the Order of Australia.
Hollows died in Sydney in 1993, when he was 63 years old. For the last six years of his life, he had renal cancer, which metastases to his brain and lungs.