Doctors live to serve others, with their core existence always leaning to benefit patients and those around them.

There is, however, a special breed of doctors, who find meaning beyond their normal scope of responsibilities and go above and beyond the call of duty. Sacrificing personal gains to assist and treat those truly in need – here is a look at three of the noble doctors.

1. The doctor who rebuilds faces marred by acid attacks


Dr Asim Shahmalak, a 56-year-old hair transplant surgeon forks out his own money to help victims of acid attacks in Pakistan.

Shahmalak was born in Karachi and received his training in Pakistan before moving to the UK and serving under NHS. He looks at his mission as an ‘act of giving back to the community’ and considers the £50,000 from his own pocket an investment worthy of the smiles on his patients’ faces.

The Manchester surgeon – who has worked with celebrities – will be treating six victims, whose face disfigurements originated from a cooking accident, gas cylinder explosion, acid attacks due to jealousy and even dissatisfaction from being turned down in a marriage proposal.

One of the acid attack victims, Sidra Kanwal is pictured before (left) and after (right) the incident when she turned down a marriage proposal. Photo credit: Cavendish/Crown Clinic
One of the acid attack victims, Sidra Kanwal is pictured before (left) and after (right) the incident when she turned down a marriage proposal. Photo credit: Cavendish/Crown Clinic

The victims were brought to light by Karachi-based charity organisation called Depilex Smile Again, who deals tirelessly with acid attack victims. The Pakistan government is unable to provide for the victims, leaving them scarred physically and emotionally.

Shahmalak hopes to instill confidence and happiness back into the patients’ lives, while also training local doctors with the remodeling procedures.

2. The only doctor in a remote area in Sudan


Dr Tom Catena, a Catholic missionary from New York is the only permanent doctor serving an area in Sudan for the last 10 years. The 53-year-old surgeon is treating and curing the 750,000 population of Nuba Mountains. Over the years, he has performed more than 1,000 surgeries every year and deals with shrapnel wounds, delivering babies and amputating limbs.

Being sandwiched in a political disagreement between the government and the Sudanese rebels, the people of Nuba Mountains are the ones to endure the great loss of sufferings and losses. Mother of Mercy Catholic Hospital in Nuba Mountains, where Catena is based, lacks in medical equipments and he has been praised for overcoming the adversities of missing and outdated equipments. His contributions were acknowledged when he received the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.

Dr Tom Catena received the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity in 2017. Photo credit: BBC
Dr Tom Catena received the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity in 2017. Photo credit: BBC

“The Sudanese Government is embroiled in a disagreement with rebels over who delivers aid, we have to inject a bit of common sense,” Catena said at the awards ceremony.

3. The doctor who treats children in war-torn Yemen


Dr Amin El Gohary, an Egyptian paediatric surgeon living and practicing in the UAE has traded the comforts of his air-conditioned consultation room for the war-torn grounds of Yemen. Between 2015 through 2017, the 69-year-old doctor has been part of four mercy missions together with two other surgeons. In just six short days, they have operated on 110 children who were affected by the war.

This was not El Gohary’s first mission, citing that he had been to conflicted areas such as Eritrea and Sudan five times between 2004 and 2010. His operations in Yemen began when a fellow doctor brought in a couple of patients from Yemen to Abu Dhabi where he was based.

After some time, El Gohary deemed that it was unsuitable for the sick patients to travel 17 hours to get to him and thus began the reversal in traveling roles. He endured dangerous journeys, only to be welcomed by subpar facilities and medical supplies, which they made do with as they immediately started operating.

He admitted, "I benefited the most out of this journey, because it was a noble mission and this is what being a doctor should be all about. It is about giving." MIMS

Read more:
5 philanthropic doctors who go the extra mile for patients
Healthcare professionals: 5 volunteering opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region
The challenges of medical volunteering abroad

Sources:
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/british-surgeon-asim-shahmalak-wept-after-hearing-acid-attack-stories-cl2k76q5h
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/40092185/doctor-in-sudan-who-treats-up-to-750000-people-wins-global-humanity-award
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4598816/Surgeon-rebuild-faces-Pakistani-acid-attack-victims.html
https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/3787314/young-mum-doused-in-acid-for-turning-down-a-mans-marriage-proposal-is-having-her-face-rebuilt-for-free-by-heroic-surgeon/
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1107841/offbeat
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/general/69-year-old-uae-doctor-on-mission-to-treat-child-war-victims-in-yemen