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Burns doctor honored in Australia


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2005 Australian of the Year, Dr Fiona Wood.
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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- A doctor who pioneered spray-on skin for victims of the 2002 Bali bomb blasts has been named Australian of the Year.

Dr. Fiona Wood, a Perth plastic surgeon who is the director of the Royal Perth Hospital's burns unit and chief medical officer of a cell culture business, was honored by Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra on Tuesday night, ahead of the Australia Day national holiday on Wednesday.

Dr. Wood, who migrated to Australia from the United Kingdom in 1987, led a team of specialists who treated many of the burns victims evacuated to Australia after the Bali nightclub blasts in October 2002.

She and other surgeons used a spray-on skin that is still under development. The treatment dramatically reduces the time it takes for the body to generate new skin cells to cover burns.

The Australia Day committee said that through her work, enthusiasm, innovation and vision, Dr. Wood "has saved and improved countless people's lives and has inspired a nation."

The senior Australian of the Year is Antonio Milhinhos, 61, who migrated from Portugal in 1968 and was honored for his fund-raising work in children's autism, guidedogs for the blind, and drought relief for farmers.

The Young Australian of the Year is another migrant, Khoa Do, 25, who has made a name in the film industry for his work as a writer, director, actor and film maker since arriving from Vietnam.

The nation's Local Hero is Ben Kearney, a baker who launched a campaign to make Coles Bay in the island state of Tasmania, Australia's first "plastic bag-free town."

A record figure of more than 12,000 people from around the world took citizenship vows Wednesday to become Australian citizens.

January 26 marks the day in 1788 when a fleet of settlers and convicts from Britain arrived in what was to become Sydney to begin the new colony of New South Wales.

But among Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of the land, the day is known as "Invasion Day."


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