Dr. Wale Sulaiman, a neurosurgeon at Ochsner Hospital, finds himself on a plane each month bouncing between two continents. While in Nigeria, he performs life-saving surgeries for free.
“My philosophy is whether you are Nigerian, Vietnamese, an American, everybody should have access to some degree of good quality healthcare,” Sulaiman said.
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.
Sulaiman 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 Sulaiman, 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,” Sulaiman 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, Sulaiman is forced to leave his children each month. He’s also agreed to give up 15 percent of his salary at Oshner 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 WWL-TV. “I feel like I have been given an opportunity to impact somebody’s life.”
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