‘FACULTY’ SET THE FOUNDATION FOR MY SURGICAL CAREER
I was set out to be a car mechanic! It was the hand of fate (or divine providence) that changed that course. I am now a human mechanic- a surgeon!
I consider myself a late bloomer. Joining primary school at the age of 9, after an epidemic of livestock disease decimated the herd of goats entrusted under my care.
I was nonchalant in primary school. Nothing out of the ordinary I can recall. The usual struggles of village childhood from a not-so-well-off family. There were many such families. We were many such kids.
It was when KCPE results of 1998 came out that I captured the imagination of the neighborhood. Scoring 501/700- a record that would stand for 18 years. My alma mater? Lailuba Primary School.
My troubles would start when my high school admission letter arrived at my primary school.
‘Do not deny us our first ever doctor’, one primary school teacher prophetically told my dad when he came to collect the high school admission letter. But dad could not manage high school fees. He could only manage the village polytechnic. I would study to become a car driver and mechanic. He was cutting his coat according to his cloth, his size notwithstanding.
When dad made good his threat to take me to the polytechnic, my teachers and villagers reacted with equal and opposite force. I was stopped in my tracks enroute to report to the polytechnic. A harambee later and I was able to report to my would be high school (St Cyprian) in the middle of the first term. Our family had been extended an extra yard of cloth, we had enough to last me through first year of high school. That first year was a needed calm before the financial storm that would characterize the remainder of my secondary schooling.
The journey to becoming a surgeon really began in earnest after high school. After scoring a clean A and gaining admission to Moi University, I spent 6 transformative years before graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree in 2010. I was fortunate during this period to gain a merit travel scholarship to Sweden (Linköping University) where I came face to face with modern western medicine.
Perhaps this experience had such impact on my impressionable young mind that I would yearn for a modern well stocked and staffed institution for my post graduate training where financial challenges would not predominantly limit my learning resources.
Equally, I got the initial inclinations towards surgery during my undergraduate years interacting with passionate faculty and surgeons in the Department of surgery.
In 2013, I landed myself in Aga Khan University's East African Medical College, Nairobi for my specialist training and graduated as a general surgeon in 2017. That same year I sat the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) exams in Mozambique to be admitted as a fellow, FCS(ECSA), in General Surgery.
But besides the degree and the professional inclination, Moi University also acted as the crucible of leadership, networking and lifelong professional connections for me. I have mentors and advisers in my former faculty. I have great friends and professional collaborators in my collegemates. I still have video clips of the CSA choir that I go back to. It was a 360-degree growth at the "faculty'.
The work-study program was highly beneficial when I was financially downtrodden. And I know I speak on behalf of hundreds of students and alumni, if not more.
Two decades later, the village boy, the late bloomer has turned into a different mechanic. The mechanic who deals with blood instead of oil, bone instead of iron and flesh in the place of aluminium. The mechanic who fixes the engine whilst it’s still running. The human mechanic. A surgeon. A surgeon who, rising from the windswept village of Lailuba against all odds, has gained global recognition as a Fellow, American College of Surgeons (FACS).
Being a surgeon is a singular chance that utilizes not only my doctor's expertise to diagnose and treat but also the dexterity of my hands to expertly fix what is physically broken in a patient. I cherish every moment of this profession.