Dr David William Sabiston MNZM
1 June 1932 – 2 June 2023
World-renowned eye surgeon Dr David Sabiston MNZM has passed away in New Zealand just one day after turning 91 years of age.
Born in Kaikoura, the northern-most district within the South Island’s Canterbury region, Dr Sabiston is survived by wife-of-65 years Gretchen (nee Prins), his daughter Jane Barr and son Anthony, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
According to an article published by the New Zealand Herald, Dr Sabiston committed his career to health care, studying at the University of Otago before taking on a position as a house surgeon at Napier Hospital in 1957. Two years later he was asked if he would like to become the hospital’s surgical registrar, a position he took up after travelling to the United Kingdom where he studied for his Diploma in Ophthalmology. Over time his responsibilities extended to patients throughout Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and the East Coast.
Even after his retirement at the age of 65 in 1997, Dr Sabiston continued to work as a locum in both New Zealand and Australia.
Dr Sabiston’s services were publicly recognised when he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit
He was appointed ophthalmologist to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, undertaking routine checks and dealing with acute injuries; he assisted with voluntary cataract operations in Cambodia and Nepal with the Restoration of Sight for Survival projects and performed voluntary surgery for the Fred Hollows Foundation.
He led the Napier Health Services Advocacy Committee from its establishment in 2004 through to 2006, and in 2007 compiled a history of the New Zealand Contact Lens Society for its 50th anniversary.
In 2010 Dr Sabiston’s services were publicly recognised when he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the New Year Honours for services to ophthalmology and the community.
In 2010 he told Hawke’s Bay Today: “Eyes are a fascinating subject. The great thing is that practically everything is there for you to see. They are the mirrors of medical disease and give you a clue to what is going on.”
A public memorial service will be held in Napier War Memorial Conference Centre on Friday, 9 June starting at 2pm.