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Hans Bredemeyer, MD


 

Hans Bredemeyer, MD 
 


“Decisive experiences? Yes, I have had several,” said Hans Bredemeyer, MD. “For instance, when I buried myself in the trash dump of the Russian prisoner of war camp in Czechoslovakia where I had been held captive for two years following the end of World War II.

“It was after the evening count. The dump lay next to a camp barracks’ wall which was lined with barbed wire. There was a guard, but when he wasn’t looking, I used the barbed wire to climb onto the roof of the barracks while carrying my boots around my neck. I jumped from
the roof, over the barbed wire, into the neighboring potato field. I lay flat on my belly until I was sure nobody was shooting at me. Then, I slowly crawled away.

“I stole a bicycle in the next village and for the next three nights I pedaled south to Germany, spending the daylight hours sleeping in forests—hidden under leaves. Sometime during the third night, I crossed into Austria, and eight weeks later I was once again in Germany. That was the beginning of the rest of my life.

“After my return to Germany, I studied medicine and while in medical school I decided to become an ophthalmologist. In those years there were very few training slots for medical graduates; I was quite lucky to be offered a residency in pathology at Hamburg University which I accepted with the intent of switching to ophthalmology whenever the possibility would present itself.

“While in Hamburg, I happened to read about residency positions in US hospitals that paid $100/month, a royal salary compared to the unpaid residencies in Germany during those first post-war years. I sent out several applications and was accepted for a residency in pathology in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I arrived there in 1954 with my wife Antonie “Toni,” whom I had met at medical school. Although I enjoyed working in pathology, I still wanted to be an ophthalmologist. Once in Oklahoma, I continued to write letters to various universities across the United States trying for a residency slot in ophthalmology.

“Happily, The Ohio State University accepted me and my wife, and I relocated to Ohio with our newly born daughter in 1955. I became one of Dr. Havener’s first residents after he took over as chairman.

“My status as an active resident in the program didn’t last long, however. Just months after arriving in Columbus, I was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and spent half of a year quarantined at OSU Hospital.

“Dr. Havener, knowing that I was in a difficult situation, reacted compassionately. During a grand rounds meeting he informed the attending ophthalmologists of my predicament, and together they promised to be there for me if I needed help, financially and otherwise. He visited me as often as he was allowed during my quarantine, and after my discharge he took me back into the program. I will always remember the kindness and help that Dr. Havener and my colleagues showed my family and me during that time.

“The end of my residency coincided with the expiration of the exchange visitor visa which had allowed me to study in the US. I was required to return to Germany for two years before re-entering the United States on a permanent immigration visa in 1960.

“I returned to Ohio and became an Assistant Professor at OSU. I worked full-time in the Department for seven years, specializing in strabismus.

“In 1967, I joined the private practice of Dr. Martin Cook in Springfield, Ohio. I still wanted to continue the work I was doing with students and residents at OSU, so I continued my association with the Department on a part-time basis until my retirement in 1988.

“It was very satisfying and rewarding to take part in the training of future ophthalmologists during my many years at OSU.

“When I learned that the Eye Department was looking to acquire an EYESi surgical simulator I thought it was an ideal opportunity to, once again, contribute to the training of future generations of outstanding ophthalmologists.”

We are honored that Dr. Bredemeyer chose to share his fascinating life with us. He began in Germany, detoured to Czechoslovakia, and finally found his true calling at The Ohio State University. We are also grateful for Dr. Bredemeyer’s generous donation towards the purchase of the EYESi surgical simulator for our residents. We are proud of our alumni and especially those who choose to pay forward like Hans Bredemeyer.