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Dream come true

Resource type: News

The Sunday Mail (Queensland, Australia) |

15 Jun 2008 THE woman behind one of Australia’s best-remembered personalities, Fred Hollows, is busy. So much so that Gabi, widow of the late Prof Hollows, speaks fast, rarely pausing. It’s because she has a lot to say on The Fred Hollows Foundation. Prof Hollows was a passionate ophthalmologist who became known for his work helping restore the eyesight of people in outback Australia and developing countries. Talking Heads with Peter Thompson tomorrow night on ABC1 looks at Gabi’s quest in continuing Prof Hollows’ dream. At 55, she is not slowing down. “Last year, the foundation performed more than 143,759 operations. Now, we want to do 12,000 operations a month. That’s our mantra. “Saving the sight of a child is literally the gift of a lifetime,” she says. A young boy who was blind in his right eye, Tran Van Giap – whose photograph was taken with Prof Hollows nearly 16 years ago – is well known and has become the Foundation’s logo. Giap travelled from Vietnam to light an incense stick at Prof Hollows’ grave site in Bourke. “His dream was to always burn some incense at Fred’s grave,” says Gabi. In 1996, she married lawyer and friend John Balazs and she continues to carry out Prof Hollows’ dream of establishing in-country laboratories which produce high quality, low cost intraocular lenses (IOLs) for use in modern cataract surgery. “Somewhere in the world, there are millions of people who have their sight restored simply because Fred had a little idea to make this more affordable. “It just blows my mind. It’s amazing to think in the last 15 years that all these things have happened to fight avoidable blindness in developing countries. “Fred would be so incredibly excited and stoked to think what we are doing. He’d be doing somersaults. “It seems a long time ago but we really kept the momentum going. We all remember Fred. “Wherever you go, we see photos of him at the bus stops. We joke about seeing Fred at seven stops. He’s around so how can we forget him?”

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Fred Hollows Foundation