Fiona Wood was born in a Yorkshire mining village in England in 1958. In 1978 she was one of twelve women admitted to the St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, London where she graduated.

After completing her internship and residency in London, she emigrated to Australia in 1987 with her Australian born husband, also a surgeon, and their two children. Settling in Perth, she completed her training in plastic surgery in between having four more children.

Deciding to work with medical scientist Marie Stoner on a method for burns treatment in Perth, they developed an entirely new, more successful method of treatment –spray-on skin. Where previous techniques of skin culturing required 21 days to produce enough cells to cover major burns, they have reduced the period to five days. Scarring is greatly reduced if replacement skin can be provided within 10 days.

The two women earned a worldwide reputation as pioneers in their field. In October 2002, their work was propelled into the media spotlight when a largest group of survivors from the 2002 Bali bombings arrived at Royal Perth Hospital. Dr Wood led a team working to save 28 patients suffering from between 2 and 92 per cent body burns, deadly infections and delayed shock.

Fiona Wood was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003 and Australian of the Year for 2005.

Today she is the director of the Royal Perth Hospital Burns Unit and the Western Australia Burns Service, a clinical professor with the School of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Australia and director of the McComb Research Foundation.

> The Fiona Wood Foundation website

Surgery, for me, was a no-brainer. I was very excited and interested by anatomy… And the obvious place to go from anatomy was into surgery. I simply thought, ‘It’s not a question of whether I’ll be a surgeon, it’s just where and when.’ So that was my approach. And my approach to people who told me that girls didn’t do that, was that I was very good at needlework. Actually, I do like embroidery, when I have the time!