Rotary honours surgeon

Orthopaedic surgeon Tim Keenan spent much of last year in East Timor.

He also went to Timika in West Irian, and the Indonesian island of Flores.

Nothing too unusual, except that Dr Keenan retired from private practice specifically to concentrate on overseas aid work, and has now spent from February until August this year in the occupied territories of Israel.

Dr Keenan began volunteering his orthopaedic skills in Afghanistan, Bali and Vietnam, after his interest was sparked in 1989.

This was during a visit to northern Pakistan, where his mother was living.

In Peshawar, on the border with Pakistan, Dr Keenan realised he could do something to improve the lot of Afghan refugees.

Several return trips followed, to distribute medical equipment and to teach surgical skills within Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Before his ‘retirement’, Dr Keenan was probably best known professionally for co-pioneering arthroscopic surgery in WA with Don Johnston in 1976.

His studies and work in WA, the United Kingdom, and the USA, in addition to his voluntary work have not gone unrecognised, and last week the Rotary Club of Osborne Park awarded Dr Keenan Rotary’s highest honour.

Dr Keenan was made a Paul Harris Fellow by the club, which has also made a donation in his honour to Rotary International’s Rotary Foundation.

Paul Harris Fellow awards are rarely made to those who are not members of a Rotary club, and Dr Keenan’s award is the first such recognition of a non-Rotarian by the Osborne Park club in over twenty years.

Dr Keenan says he intends to continue his overseas aid ventures, with the continued support of his wife and family.

In the short-term he will talk to various groups around Australia, and make further short visits to Indonesia.

Next year, he envisages spending time in Africa and/or Afghanistan, and in the medium term, would like to establish retraining for those doctors in Afghanistan whose skills have been compromised after considerable time as refugees.

Talks with the Health Minister in Kabul may result in a program whereby some personnel could come to Australia for additional training.

Organisations to benefit from Dr Keenan’s services since his retirement in January last year, include The Red Cross, Australian Asia Rehab and the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.

Former Non-Rotarian Marie Kormendy was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by the club in 1979, for her work in the field of deaf education.

Ms Kormendy, a former principal of the Speech and Hearing Centre for Children, is now disability adviser at Edith Cowan University.

She joined Rotary about 10 years after receiving her award, when membership became available to women.

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