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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 March 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 MARCH 2015 15 FEATURE Andrews Drug Store, Elizabeth Street c. 1950. In that time he treated thousands of mostly “He’s a shy, sensitive and remarkable man, and we all love him so much.” Euahna Varigos his surgery at 141 Victoria Parade - opposite the Greek church. It was 1963 and it would be the address om which he would practice for the next forty years, virtually until his ement at the ripe old age of 95. Greek-heritage patients. In the early years he was virtually the only Greek-speaking doctor families could turn to. The abiding memory of those who sought his advice is of the amount of time he spent with them, not only discussing their diagnosis and treatment, but their everyday experiences - their wider 'condition'. Under his care a community shared its fears and hopes. Family friend and cardiologist Manny Manolas, who worked with Andrew from the 1980s, says the GP developed an extraordinary relationship with his patients. "They'd grown up with him over 30 or 40 years. He wasn't just a doctor, he was a social worker for the Greek community. "He was always reading between the lines and listening to his patients, and money was never the issue. He always had time for people." The Varigos legacy continues. Andrew's children excelled in their chosen professions. John is a successful businessman. George followed in his father's footsteps and is Professor in Dermatology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Euahna is a specialist anaesthetist. Andrew's seven grandchildren have pursued professions away from medicine - so far. Despite his own health problems in recent years, Andrew is still mobile and - looked after at home by Chrissie and carers - is making the best of his second century. His most cherished entertainment these days is watching his beloved Sydney Swans on television. The boy who ran excitedly to South Melbourne's games at Albert Park after a morning's work on the market stall has more than one claim to fame. Being 100 and holding the title of the world's oldest practicing GP is one thing, but he's also seen the Swans win all three of their premierships to date (the first was in 1933). Fittingly, Andrew's special birthday celebration took place in the Long Room of the MCG last Sunday. When I visited him at his Toorak home last week, messages from the Queen, the governor general and the prime minister sat proudly on the table - the gracious official tributes for being 100 not out. But the most poignant tributes to this humble pioneer are to be found in the memories of his thousands of patients. Andrew's trademark humility is still to the fore. I ask what he remembers most fondly about his remarkable career. The centenarian pauses, recollecting his thoughts before answering. "I enjoyed seeing and treating people, ensuring I got the diagnosis correct and not making a mistake, "says Andrew quietly. "That's what I would worry about. I used to treat people as my own." This article was written with the assistance of the Varigos family. With special thanks to Andrew Ranger, Greg Varigos and Euahna Varigos. Andrew in the Long Room of the MCG last weekend.
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