Professor Michael Chapman

22 February 2021

This article appeared in the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader on January 26, 2021.


A St George-based obstetrician-gynaecologist and fertility expert who delivered 3000 babies and assisted with the conception of another 3500 has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) as part of the Australia Day honours.

Professor Michael Chapman was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to medical education, and to obstetrics and gynaecology.

The University of NSW professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Clinical Director of Women's Health at South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and former Fertility Society of Australia president said he was "excited and honoured".

He said while he had done "a lot of things" during his long career, he was most proud of his work educating and mentoring younger doctors.

"One of my greatest achievements is mentoring younger doctors," he said.

"Four of my junior doctors have ultimately gone on to become professors themselves. The majority of the excellent obstetricians in St George and Sutherland Shire have developed their skills under my tutelage."

He has lectured since his days at Guy's Hospital in London and continues to do so today. He spent eight years as the head of UNSW School of Women's and Children's Health and continues to have students with him in his clinics.

"I have been lecturing for the whole of my career," he said. "It is one of the great joys of my career."

Professor Chapman said the biggest changes he had seen in his obstetric career was the survival of pre-term babies, especially those born at 24-30 weeks' gestation, but this was due to paediatric treatment advancements.

He would like to see greater advancements in stopping women from going into pre-term labour.

"We have still not found a good way to stop pre-term delivery," he said. "We still do not have great medicines to stop the uterus contracting early."

He said the diagnosis of genetic abnormalities had also improved greatly with amazing advances in technology over the past 20 years.

A leading IVF specialist in private practice, including at IVF Australia Kogarah, he has seen many improvements in treatment and success rates.

"In the IVF world, I have seen it move from being pretty much experimental with low success rates to now 1 in 20 babies born as a result of IVF each year," he said.

"Success rates have gone from 10-12 per cent in 1994 to 40 per cent today in younger women."

He is extremely proud of the part he played in reducing the number of embryos transferred into women undergoing IVF while he was chairman of FSA IVF Directors Group in 2004.

"We decided to put only one embryo back and that had major repercussions for reducing the incidence of twins and the complications of brain damage in babies, higher losses of babies and costs of intensive care for them," he said. "That change of policy was a world-leading decision."

But it is perhaps the thousands of babies he helped bring into the world that is amongst his proudest achievements.

"Even today, I continue to be delighted to help achieve a baby in those so desperate to be a mother," he said.

"In my career I have helped create over 3500 babies through fertility treatment.

"I have personally delivered over 3000 babies and had a hand in many others.

"As clinical director of women's health at St George and Sutherland hospitals for 25 years, I have also been in some way responsible for the delivery of 2500 babies a year."



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