Prince of pae­di­atrics

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JES­SICA WARRINER

TELETHON Kids In­sti­tute di­rec­tor Jonathan Cara­petis is one of WA’S new­est Mem­bers of the Or­der of Aus­tralia.

Pro­fes­sor Cara­petis was ac­knowl­edged on the Queen’s Birth­day Honours list on Mon­day.

“It’s the sort of thing you don’t ex­pect and don’t hang out for; it’s a lovely sur­prise and an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the work of a whole lot of peo­ple over many years,” he said.

Prof Cara­petis was ap­pointed for sig­nif­i­cant ser­vice to medicine in pae­di­atrics, par­tic­u­larly the di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and pre­ven­tion of rheumatic heart dis­ease (RHD), a pre­ventable con­di­tion caused by an ab­nor­mal im­mune re­ac­tion to strep in­fec­tion of the throat and skin.

He de­cided to fo­cus on pae­di­atrics af­ter tak­ing to the round dur­ing his ro­ta­tions as a med­i­cal stu­dent.

“As soon as I got to the chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal in Mel­bourne, it felt like the right place to be,” he said.

“Ev­ery­one was so nice, no one was in coats and you’re deal­ing with kids; they’re all in­no­cents.

“When kids get sick it’s not fair and the par­ents are suf­fer­ing with them.”

When Prof Cara­petis started to get in­volved in re­search, he re­alised his work could ben­e­fit chil­dren beyond those he saw one-on-one in a clinic.

“I love be­ing a doc­tor be­cause you can see pa­tients and make them bet­ter; when I got ex­posed to re­search, it made it clear you can have a much big­ger im­pact,” he said.

Prof Cara­petis be­gan look­ing at Abo­rig­i­nal health is­sues and con­tacted a men­tor in Dar­win, where his wife had pre­vi­ously worked.

“We spent a cou­ple of weeks in Dar­win and I de­cided that’s what I wanted to do. The rest is his­tory,” he said.

Prof Cara­petis, who es­tab­lished the END RHD Cen­tre of Re­search Ex­cel­lence, has just re­turned from Geneva, where RHD was on the agenda for the World Health As­sem­bly.

Prof Cara­petis said he felt lucky to in­herit the di­rec­tor po­si­tion at TKI from Fiona Stan­ley six years ago and said the move to Perth Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal would usher in a new era of child health in WA.

“We’re packed with re­searchers and sup­port staff and we’re here to make a dif­fer­ence and fo­cus on out­comes. These peo­ple come here be­cause they’re pas­sion­ate,” he said.

Picture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d483620

Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Cara­petis, di­rec­tor of Telethon Kids In­sti­tute, was ac­knowl­edged in the Queen's Birth­day Honours.

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