Dr Deborah Margarette Wass
(1953 – 2016)
Dr Deborah Margarette Wass was born in Newcastle on 22 June 1953. She graduated from Sydney University in 1976. After deciding on a career in obstetrics and gynaecology, she set off on a stellar training path, working under every specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist of consequence in London, at Kings College Hospital, Samaritan Hospital and Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. Dr Wass became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG) in 1985. She worked as a staff specialist for some years at the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, New South Wales. During this time she sustained an injury following a fall, which resulted in a chronic neck pain syndrome. This led her to retrain as an ultrasound specialist. During her subspecialty training, she established and honed her skills at transvaginal chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and published a landmark report, ‘1000 consecutive Transvaginal CVS by a single operator’. In 1991, she was certified in Obstetrical and Gynaecological Ultrasound (COGU).
In 1996 she moved to Albury-Wodonga to become the first COGU subspecialist in regional Australia. Here she served the border town as well as the surrounding centres, including Wangaratta and Wagga Wagga, with a population in excess of 250 000. The move to the country allowed her to develop her passion for breeding and racing horses.
Dr Wass was involved in the supervision and teaching of specialist trainees, which opened the door to the first Senior O&G Registrar training post being formed in a provincial centre, at Wodonga Hospital. She also had a broader influence on the executive of Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine (ASUM) where she was an examiner for the Diploma of Diagnostic Ultrasound (DDU) until her death.
With Dr Wass’ considerable intellect, her ability to cut to the chase and her authoritative views on all matters obstetrics and gynaecology, she was an integral member at all departmental meetings and in the day-to-day support of border clinicians.
Dr Wass was universally liked by the many women she cared for. Her style was direct, but always compassionate. She helped an enormous number of women through the pain of failed pregnancies, fetal malformations and many other hurdles of pregnancy.
Dr Wass died suddenly on 23 May 2016, and is survived by her mother Margarette and her sister Jillian.