PINJARRA surgeon Srisongham (Sam) Khamhing was honoured at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Outstanding Service to the Community Awards in recognition of his long and distinguished career.
Dr Khamhing was presented with the award in a surprise ceremony as part of the WA Surgeons Ball in front of family, colleagues and friends.
RACS WA chairman Stephen Dogrigues said the RACS award recognises surgeons with a dedicated history of service to their local community.
Prior to his medical career, Dr Khamhing and his family moved to Australia from Laos in 1965, where his father established the Lao embassy in Canberra.
Although he undertook his medical training in Sydney, for the past three decades he has lived in WA where his care, commitment and loyalty are renowned right across the state.
After initially moving to the Kimberley for a three month locum contract in 1982, Dr Khamhing fell in love with the lifestyle and the work.
He thrived on the challenge of providing high quality essential services to some of the most remote communities.
“In remote areas there is limited support and resources so you have to be an all-rounder,” Dr Khamhing said.
“It certainly was a challenge but it was also a great experience and gave me so much personal fulfilment.
“Working with the Indigenous people in the Kimberley was a real highlight, as was working with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and being able to provide clinics to remote communities.
“I particularly remember the ‘mercy dashes’ we did to Broome from Derby, where we performed an emergency laparotomy for penetrating abdominal injuries, and also from Kununurra to Wyndham to perform an emergency caesarean.”
Dr Khamhing left the Kimberley at the end of 1989 and moved to Pinjarra to raise his family.
“The changes in the area over the last 20 to 30 years have been significant,” he said.
“The growth in the region has obviously led to a much greater demand for services, but with that has also come a big increase in the number of doctors that now live and work here.
“It is certainly very different to when I first started out and now has a different set of challenges.”
Peel Health Campus chief executive Margaret Sturdy recommended Dr Khamhing for the award.
She paid tribute to his generous and highly likeable nature.
“Through my 25 years in medical administration and hospital management, I have never met a doctor who is so universally loved by the staff at all levels of the hospital,” Dr Sturdy said.
“Sam is well known in the community and throughout the hospital as a kind, empathetic expert in his field.
“His care for patients, commitment and loyalty is admired.”