A young Cam Hollows with his dad, the revered eye surgeon Dr Fred Hollows.
A young Cam Hollows with his dad, the revered eye surgeon Dr Fred Hollows.

Fred's boy to change careers

IT SEEMED the only person who didn’t know Cam Hollows – the son of the late revered eye surgeon Fred Hollows – would be a doctor was the young man himself.

However, after working as a marine biologist, Mr Hollows, 29, is now at Lismore Base Hospital as part of his medical training through Sydney University and the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health.

Mr Hollows said it wasn’t until he contracted malaria while working on a marine conservation project in Papua New Guinea that he decided to follow his famous dad into medicine.

“I’ve had people telling me since I was 12: ‘You will do medicine like your dad’,” Mr Hollows said. “I’ve never felt any pressure from anyone close to me to do that, but it’s been there.”

Mr Hollows is the first of his siblings to take up the stethoscope. One sister is doing environmental law with the NSW Inland Rivers Network, another is training as a registered nurse and another is doing carpentry with an eye to the theatre.

“If you look at Fred and Gabi’s kids, all of us are working in pretty bleeding heart kind of stuff,” he said.

Marine biology was no flight from destiny – Mr Hollows said he was merely pursuing subjects and issues that interested him.

However, his brush with malaria in Papua New Guinea crystallised his feelings on his environmental work compared to the immediate and practical way medicine could improve lives.

“Coming from the environmental sector in a developing country you see why health is a priority,” he said. “You’ll be talking about rivers or trees and they’ll say ‘sorry, I’ve got to feed my kids’.”

Mr Hollows remains involved with environmental organisations, but issues such as health and social justice are just as essential as tackling global warming.

He is also dedicated to the Fred Hollows Foundation, which he saw created at his kitchen table in 1992, and its extraordinary achievements over the past two decades.

That said there was no plan to become an eye surgeon like his dad.

Mr Hollows said he was enjoying Lismore. He had previously spent a lot of time on the Northern Rivers – he trained as a dive instructor with Sundive at Byron Bay – and he hopes eventually to return here to practice.



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