14 Dec 2010

Surgeon honoured for work on strawberry birthmarks

7:10 pm on 14 December 2010

A Wellington plastic surgeon has been honoured by doctors for his work on strawberry birthmarks.

The Medical Association presented Swee Tan with its highest award at an event in Wellington on Tuesday evening.

Professor Tan is the director of surgery at Hutt Valley District Health Board.

The association says his research into the origin of strawberry birthmarks has transformed the lives of many children born with them, has led to better treatment of them, and has exciting implications for the treatment of cancer.

The birthmark appears as a bright red or purple-coloured slightly raised lump, usually on the head or neck, and is so named because it can look like a strawberry.

Medical Association chairman Peter Foley says Professor Tan is an inspirational plastic surgeon whose work on this type of birthmark has been recognised internationally.

Dr Foley says Professor Tan grew up in a family of 14 in a village in Malaysia and always dreamed of being a doctor.

He says he could work anywhere in the world now, but is committed to New Zealand.

"Professor Swee Tan is a very humble doctor who recognises that he got opportunities that others did not and he owes it to New Zealand and he's committed to staying and working in the New Zealand medical profession - and for that we should all be very grateful."