According to Aswan Governor Ahmad Ibrahim, it was the “day of gratitude”. It was 27 November, his last day as Governor, since a governor reshuffle brought to Aswan a new governor that day. Aswan is Egypt’s southernmost city, some 700km south of Cairo.
Governor Ibrahim celebrated gratitude by unveiling a bust of the world-renowned Egyptian British heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub in one of Aswan’s main squares which was renamed Sir Magi Yacoub Square. This was how Aswan expressed its unending gratitude to Sir Magdi.
Sir Magdi, who turned 85 on 16 November, founded the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation (MYF) in 2008 which in turn established the Aswan Heart Centre in 2009. The centre works to combat heart disease in Egypt and offer superior medical service to all, especially the underprivileged, free of charge.
Aswanis never forgot that Sir Magdi had chosen their city from among all Egypt’s towns and cities to host his heart centre. They hold him in their hearts for that choice, appreciating his services to the sick and to their city. In fact, Sir Magdi’s gentle loving nature, and his integrity, loyalty and devotion to his country and countrymen have endeared him to millions of Egyptians who have aptly named him ‘Prince of Hearts’.
Even though Sir Magdi himself retired a few years ago, he continues to offer his consultancy in the field where he excelled and for which he has gained international acclaim and renown. After the success of the Aswan Heart Centre, he established another branch of the centre in New Aswan, and through his MYF has cooperated with the Ministry of Health to offer Egyptian doctors and nurses high international standard medical trainings.
In the presence of hundreds of Aswanis, Governor Ibrahim unveiled the 130cm-high bronze bust of Sir Magdi in the square which was until then known as EgyptAir Square. Now, it is Sir Magdi Yacoub Square. The erection of the bust and renaming of the square had been a public demand of Aswanis.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by Sir Magdi and his daughter Lisa Yacoub, as well as sculptor Mohsen Selim who made the bust, Ahmed Ghallab head of Aswan University, and representatives of security, administrative and societal authorities, as well as scores of Sir Magdi’s former patients.
The event started with a performance by Aswan Folk Group, following which Sir Magdi gave a speech where he thanked Aswanis and the governor for their love and the warm gesture. He pointed out that he had been invited earlier this week to stand by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi during inauguration of the new Egyptian universal Medical Insurance system in Port Said, and that the President delegated him to oversee the heart unit of the Nasr Children Hospital in Port Said. Sir Magdi said he was grateful for all the appreciation Egypt was giving him.
For his part, Governor Ibrahim said that the great surgeon is a human model of humility and a source of endless generosity, reminding of his great contribution to Aswanis and Egyptians by founding the Aswan Heart Centre.
Sculptor Mohsen Selim is a professor of sculpture at Assiut University’s Faculty of Applied Arts, and has to his credit several busts and statues in Egyptian cities. He said he was proud to have sculpted Sir Magdi’s bust, a task he did with love.
Sir Magdi Yacoub
Sir Magdi was born to a Coptic family in Belbeis in the east Delta province of Sharqiya in November 1935. He studied medicine at Cairo University and qualified as a doctor in 1957. In 1962 he moved to Britain where he trained, then taught in Chicago.
He became consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Harefield Hospital from 1969 to 2001 and Royal Brompton Hospital from 1986 to 2001. He was appointed professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute in the UK in 1986.
In 1995 he founded the UK charity Chain of Hope, aiming to provide children suffering from life-threatening disease with the corrective surgery and treatment to which they do not have access.
Sir Magdi retired from performing surgery at the UK National Health Service in 2001 at age 65, and founded the Magdi Yacoub Research Institute at Harefield. In 2008, Sir Magdi founded the Magdi Yacoub Research Network, London, which he chairs. He established the Aswan Heart Centre in April 2009.
Sir Magdi has active interest in global healthcare delivery through his Chain of Hope, with particular focus on Egypt, the Gulf Region, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Jamaica.
He was honoured with numerous awards among which was a lifetime outstanding achievement award in recognition of contribution to medicine by the UK Secretary of State for Health in 1999, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Heart Failure Summit in 2001, the WHO prize for Humanitarian Services in 2003, International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, the 2007 Medal of Merit by the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences, the Grand Nile Collar for science and humanity in 2011, and the American College of Cardiology Legend of Cardiovascular Medicine in 2012.
He was knighted in 1992, and awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2014 New Year Honours.
In January 2014 he was honoured by Pope Tawadros II who awarded him the Medal of St Mark.
28 November 2019