Jeffrey Rosenfeld
The man with invincible determination

In life there are always obstacles. They can either thwart someone completely, or if they have the determination, willpower, internal confidence to trust their own judgement, and insight into their own abilities, then they may well overcome the obstacle and move forward towards their goals.

FIRST SURGERY

My first operation was doing an appendectomy as a first year intern at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1977. I had about 20 medical students standing around the operating table, watching what I was doing.

WELL SORRY JEFFREY, YOU’RE NOT SUITED FOR SURGERY.

My first general rotation was to Horsham, a fairly remote location in Victoria. I was doing surgery of a scope that I'd never done before. The surgeon who was there judged my performance after three months to not be up to what he thought a surgical registrar should be able to do. He told me, “Jeffrey, I'm not going to recommend you to continue in surgery, because you're not suited to it.

I could have told myself, “Right, he's right, I'm giving up surgery.” I could have been completely destroyed by that comment. But I decided that no - I believed he was wrong because I knew I could achieve what was required given the chance.

I overcame the obstacle and said no, I think I can do surgery. I know I've got the capabilities to do it. This is really what I want to do. This is what I've decided, I have to do this. I'm going to go all out to try and do it.

INVENTING A WORLD-STANDARD SURGICAL PROCEDURE

I had patients coming from over the world for the operation: one from Tanzania, a number from Europe and even some from the US. It was unheard of for US patients to come to Australia for their treatment - it’s always the other way - but I actually had them coming here.

It’s hypothalamic hamartoma: a small tumour that develops from before birth and causes very severe epilepsy in young children. I developed this operation which was different to all the others that had been done before.

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