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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 November 2016
6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 NOVEMBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THEODORA MAIOS Over 20,000 babies delivered in Australia by Greek refugee from Gaza Legendary obstetrician Basil Antonas delivers three generations of Greek babies before delivering his own retirement Having delivered almost a quarter of South Australia's Greek community's offspring and more than 20,000 babies overall during his illustrious career, the distinguished Greek obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Basil Antonas announced his retirement from obstetrics earlier this month, resulting in a few tears and a flood of gratitude from the families fortunate enough to have him by their side during some of the most important moments of their lives. "It was a wonderful and adventurous journey full of happy moments, thrills and challenges," the University of Adelaide graduate tells Neos Kosmos. According to Dr Antonas, around 30 per cent of his patients over the years were of Greek background while another 25 per cent were of Italian origin. "Regardless of nationality, for me, any patient that has entrusted me with their life's journey is unique and I always feel even more grateful and incredibly honoured when children who I have delivered come back to me as adults so I can deliver their babies," admits the father of four and grandfather of eight, who attended Adelaide High School and then medical school at Adelaide University. He admits that being an obstetrician hasn't always been an easy task and requires one to be "on-call" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "Our work is particularly demanding and requires many compromises, but the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment I experience when I welcome the one generation after the other into this world, overwhelms me," he says. Born in a refugee camp in the Palestinian territory of Gaza in 1944, the man who dedicated his life delivering healthy children in the safe and welcoming environments of Australian hospitals had a very different 'welcome' to this world. "After the invasion of Kastellorizo, the English deported my pregnant mother with my two-year-old brother to Palestine. I was born there shortly after," he says. Together with a group of refugees, the family moved to Egypt where they boarded a ship to Cyprus. Sadly, somewhere in the Mediterranean the ship sank and 39 people drowned. After spending six horrendous hours in the freezing water and with the help of Antonas' uncle, the family survived and eventually migrated to Australia in 1950. Today, following a life full of ad- Dr Basil Antonas after delivering Georgios Mavragelos. ventures, as well as successes, Dr Antonas is about to perform a 180-degree turn and commence a new chapter in his life's book. "Retirement was without a doubt a difficult decision to make because I am blessed with good health and energy, but I feel that it is time to take a step back and devote my time to myself and my family," says the obstetrician, who will continue to work as a consultant at the Women's and Children's Hospital and also teach at Adelaide University's Medical School.
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