Jordanian medical student creates life-saving charity for children with heart disease

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ted the Heart 4 Heart student-run charity to help children with congenital heart disease (Photo courtesy of Farah Musharbash)

AMMAN — Through a student-run non-profit organisation, a young Jordanian medical student is helping to improve the quality of life for children with congenital heart disease around the world.

When Farah Musharbash, 23, first started his studies at the Canadian McGill University in 2012, he had a hard time finding a student group or organisation that supported a cause he felt passionate about.

That same year, both of his grandfathers passed away from heart attacks, a medical issue that touched him deeply and made him eager to do something. 

Musharbash knew that, for many children born with a congenital heart disease, an operation can allow them to live a full and normal life. This is what inspired him to co-create the Heart 4 Heart student-run charity.

The charity seeks to raise awareness about congenital heart disease and to raise funds to provide life-saving surgeries for children in various developing countries, in partnership with the Gift of Life International’s surgical missions.

“Today, we have seven chapters in different universities in Canada and the US, and we’ve helped save more than 35 children worldwide,” he told The Jordan Times recently via e-mail.

Currently a medical student at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, Musharbash said his experience with the charity has played a pivotal role in his pursuit of a career as a doctor.

It has also contributed to his personal growth, and taught him a great deal about the value of teamwork and good leadership, he noted.

“Whenever we get a thank you letter or a video from the mother of one of the kids we helped, it always serves as a reminder of the reason we started this charity,” Musharbash said.

The medical student was born in Amman and enrolled at the IGCSE programme at the Amman Baptist School, where he received six awards from Her Majesty Queen Rania and from the University of Cambridge for academic excellence. 

“The quality of education I received from my teachers was superb… and prepared me extremely well for my studies,” he said, adding that being recognised for his efforts has given him the confidence that hardwork pays off.

Out of his numerous achievements, Musharbash created an innovative method to tie surgical knots that only requires the use of one hand, leaving the other hand the freedom to work on other tasks, compared to other techniques that existed previously.

Musharbash’s method was later published in the Royal College of Surgeons of England in their April 2017 journal, (volume 99, issue 4).

The young Jordanian was also the only medical student selected to give a lecture on his research at the annual conference of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery in May 2017, the largest meeting in the world for heart and lung surgery.

Achieving success at a young age depends heavily on developing the right habits and thinking outside the box, according to Musharbash, who added that entering a field you are passionate about is the only way to put in 100 per cent of the effort and energy needed to excel.

Musharbash noted that Jordanians’ “deep respect and love” for their homeland   drives their contribution to their country whenever and wherever possible.

“When it comes to Jordanian students studying abroad, they are in a special position, because they get to see a different way of doing things and get exposed to new ideas and technologies first hand,” he said.

The medical student added: “This can be a great opportunity for many who will come back to Jordan to start their own businesses to help develop the industry and put it on par with the leading countries in the world”. 

Meanwhile, he said that the government can also play an important role in this regard by reaching out to talented Jordanians abroad and providing them with appropriate methods and channels to include Jordan in their future plans. 

“This will certainly help reduce some of the brain drain that the country has been experiencing,” he concluded.

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