The Weaver’s Son – Odyssey of an Australian Surgeon launched

June 17 / 194

Dr Donald Hossack with Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences Professor Shitij Kapur at the book launch.
Dr Donald Hossack with Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences Professor Shitij Kapur at the book launch.

The pain and torment of dyslexia did not prevent a Melbourne surgeon from helping to develop revolutionary Victorian seatbelt and drink driving laws.

In a book launched last week, Dr Donald Hossack tells the extraordinary story of his struggle to overcome dyslexia and become an eminent surgeon with the encouragement and support of the University of Melbourne.

Dr Donald Hossack OBE PSM graduated MB BS in 1954, but it was a long journey of discovery fuelled by his own determination. 

In The Weaver’s Son: Odyssey of an Australian Surgeon, Dr Hossack tells how he struggled with undiagnosed severe dyslexia throughout his childhood and was practically illiterate until his adolescent years. School was unbearable, so he left and joined the workforce.

His fortunes changed when a job led him to the University of Melbourne. As a laboratory assistant, Dr Hossack was soon noticed for his intelligence, intuition and work ethic. Encouraged by staff, he returned to school, re-taught himself to read and write and qualified as a pharmacist, doctor, and then surgeon.

Dr Hossack went on to help bring about Victoria’s landmark legislation mandating alcohol breath testing and the wearing of seatbelts – two of the most effective public health interventions of the time.

Professor Geoff McColl, Head of the Medical School at the University of Melbourne, says Dr Hossack is a man of great talent and skill who showed insight into issues affecting the total population.

“Dr Hossack carried with him a passionate belief in prevention and care and paved the way forward for positive policy change,” Professor McColl says.

“As a result, all Victorians were made safer by his work. By December 1970, Victoria was the first jurisdiction in the world to introduce mandatory wearing of seatbelts, and all other Australian states followed. In 1976, Parliament legislated for compulsory random breathalyser testing of drivers in Victoria.”

Dr Hossack’s work has positively impacted on all Australians and his memoir is an inspiring testament to the power of education and perseverance to transform lives.

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