How a paraplegic student’s visit to Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar rekindled his passion for medicine
When Namran Ayed Banibaqash visited Qatar Foundation’s Headquarters, he said that his dream in life was to become a doctor and create a treatment for paraplegia - a very rare condition that Namran has been suffering from since he was six years old. And although it was an injury that kept him wheelchair-bound for 10 years, it has never stopped him from losing hope that he would be able to walk again and live a normal life; and play football!
Namran, a student at the Qatar-Finland International School, visited with a group of eighth and ninth grade students, as part of Qatar Career Development Center’s Job Shadowing Program that aims to introduce students to various academic tracks and career specializations within Education City.
En route to Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q), Namran recounted his childhood. "I remember that my life was like that of any other child; we used to race and run in the backyard, and I used to ride a bike and play football with my brother Hamad and my friends.
“This picture was taken by my father while we were going to visit our relatives. Everything was normal until I was six years-old when my whole life changed. “At the age of six, I was admitted to a hospital abroad to have a surgery to treat scoliosis when I ended up losing sensation in the lower half of my body,” Namran reminisced looking at old photographs.
My determination to get treated made me look at my condition not as an obstacle, but as a stimulus to study, learn, and excel; to be able to find solutions for myself and others who face the same challenges.
He returned home in a wheelchair, recalling the tears of his grandmother and the prayers of his family for him to recover. But he remained confident that he could be treated, and would regain the ability to walk.
“For the last few years, I have been searching for a cure for my condition. My determination to get treated made me look at my condition not as an obstacle, but as a stimulus to study, learn, and excel; to be able to find solutions for myself and others who face the same challenges.”
At WCM-Q, Namran was introduced to advanced facilities, medical programs, and laboratories.
In the Clinical Skills and Simulation Lab , the first-of-its-kind in the Middle East, Namran was briefed about what the laboratory offered in order to train students in medicine, including medical manikins such as Sim Man and HAL.
In the Anatomy Department, Dr. Ameed Raoof, Associate Professor of Anatomy in Radiology, as well as Dr. Mange Festo Manyama and Dr. Avelin A. Malyango - two Assistant Professors of Anatomy in Radiology, gave Namran an explanation about anatomy through WCM-Q’s state-of-the-art Anatomage Table, a human-sized touchscreen display for visualizing the human anatomy.
Until I find a treatment for my condition, I will not consider myself as a prisoner of my wheelchair.
During the tour, Namran showed clear comprehension and good understanding when he correctly answered several questions about the human body. But each time the doctor moved between different parts of the human body, Namran stopped at the spine and asked, “Where does the deviation occur? Is there hope for total recovery?” To which Dr. Raoof said, “Today, medicine is very advanced and yes, there is hope for recovery from your injury.”
Namran, who was very excited to explore the world of medicine, was keen to learn more about the WCM-Q’s Foundation Program and the integrated Six-Year Medical Program, and admission procedures. He admitted that the course was long, but worth the effort as it would bring him closer to realizing his dream.
“Until I find a treatment for my condition, I will not consider myself as a prisoner of my wheelchair. The wheelchair is my friend - one that has accompanied me for 10 years and has helped me to serve myself better. If and when the day comes that I no longer need it, it will still be in my heart.”
Namran’s fierce strength comes from his family; his father keeps narrating inspiring stories of people with similar injuries, while his mother spends a great deal of time with him. The kindness of fellow students and teachers at school have also reinforced his belief in life.
“We will wait for you here to be one of our students and keep a seat for you. Nothing can prevent a student from being a researcher and finding solutions to urgent medical challenges; to making dreams come true,” Dr. Raoof told Namran at the end of the WCM-Q tour.
And since then, Namran’s determination has only increased. He is confident that one day he will not only cheer footballers from afar, but rather, he will be one of the players, scoring goals.