NZ bike fall cripples Perth eye doctor

Cathy O'Leary Medical Editor
Andrew Stewart, with some of his buffaloes in the South West.

A prominent Perth eye surgeon has been left a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in a mountain biking accident in New Zealand.

Andrew Stewart, a past president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, is understood to have fallen off a bike last week while visiting Christchurch.

The 72-year-old had a fracture and compression to his spine which have left him paralysed from the waist down, although it is understood he has light movement and feeling in his fingers.

Shocked former colleagues said yesterday it was likely Dr Stewart would have to stay in hospital in New Zealand for several months before he could return to Perth.

RANZCO chief executive David Andrews sent out an email to members this week to describe the “sad news” about the college’s president in 2006 and 2007.

“Andrew’s son advises that they are not yet sure of the long-term prognosis but are hopeful he will regain some movement,” Dr Andrews said in the email.

“Our best wishes for a recovery go to Andrew and his family.”

Dr Stewart, who went to Christ Church Grammar School before studying medicine at the University of WA, specialised in cataract and glaucoma surgery during his career.

In his spare time, he has been a classical pianist and a keen pilot, and is a long-time member of the North Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club.

He is also well-known in WA for his hobby, buffalo breeding.

Dr Stewart was one of the first breeders to import buffalo from the Northern Territory in the 1980s.