Do you believe that angels do exist among us? Because I just found one. Meet Dr. Olawale Suleiman a US-based Nigerian who travels monthly to perform free surgery.
As if the life of a neurosurgeon isn’t busy enough, one dedicated doctor manages to split his time between New Orleans — and Nigeria. Dr. Olawale Suleiman, a neurosurgeon at Ochsner Hospital, finds himself on a plane each month bouncing between two continents. While in Nigeria, he performs free surgeries.
Dr. Olawale Suleiman who is a professor of neurosurgery and spine surgery. He is also the system chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the Ochsner health system in New Orleans, Louisiana, in America. Suleiman also serves as co-medical director of Ochsner Neuroscience Institute and medical director of the most comprehensive spine center in the region.
In an interview, when asked about his philosophy he said; “My philosophy is whether you are Nigerian, Vietnamese, an American, everybody should have access to some degree of good quality healthcare.” When asked about his motivation, he said; “if I have been given all these opportunities in life and the least I can do is to give back to the society.”
The doctor and his team have treated nearly 500 patients and provided preventative medicine to at least 5,000 in the last five years alone.
Suleiman treated one man in New Orleans who suffered back pain for years but avoided having surgery. When the pain began to impact his walking, however, the man turned to Suleiman, who performed his spine surgery. The man was up and moving again just one day after the operation.
Over in Nigeria, he treated a woman who was comatose with a brain tumor and needed emergency surgery. After the operation was complete, the woman was able to open her eyes and move on her own again, according to the station.
“That’s why I continue to do it,” Suleiman said. “Because I think you can really make a significant impact on people that would otherwise be hopeless.”
The doctor began his missions to Nigeria in 2010, leaving his post at Ochsner to travel to Nigeria every few months. Now he travels to Africa each month, spending seven to 10 days doing surgeries.
Saving lives in two separate countries is not an easy task, however, and requires a great deal of sacrifice. According to the station, Suleiman is forced to leave his children each month. He’s also agreed to give up 15 percent of his salary at Ochsner to allow him a more flexible travel schedule.
Taking his efforts one step further, Sulaiman is developing training programs for locals and established the RNZ Foundation, which plans to build a medical facility in Nigeria where he and his doctors can treat patients.
“I feel privileged,” he told reporters “I feel like I have been given an opportunity to impact somebody’s life.”