Tuesday 25 October carried to Egyptians a heartbreaking obituary announcing the passing of the widely-loved, highly honoured kidney doctor Rashad Barsoum, founder and chairman of the Cairo Kidney Centre.
The obituary, posted on social media, mourned Professor R. Barsoum as the “husband of a loving lifelong wife, Mona Tawfik Farid; father of three extremely proud daughters: Drs Noha Barsoum, Nadine Barsoum, and Mireille Barsoum; and the grandfather of five grandchildren. He was brother of the most loving brothers Maged Barsoum and Mohsen Barsoum, and sister Nesrine Barsoum.” Both Barsoum brothers are prominent, highly esteemed figures in the medical profession in their respective fields of surgery and oncology.
The obituary went on to say that Dr R. Barsoum “was professor and mentor to many many students, loved by a lot of friends, and doctor of countless appreciative patients…
“He was a great man… always going this little extra step, reading this most updated article, spending this extra penny, pushing this little bit more, meticulously doing this piece of work, giving this thing a little more time, just to be on top of what he does… that being a scientist, professor, doctor, mentor, friend, husband and father.”
Rashad Sami Barsoum was born in Assiut in 1941 and graduated from Cairo University’s Qasr al-Aini Medical School with honours in 1963. He earned a doctorate in Internal Medicine (MD) from Cairo University in June 1969, and went on to do further studies in Egypt, France, the UK and the US. In 1988 he became Chief of Nephrology at Cairo University till 2001. He founded or was founding member, then honorary life-time member of Nephrology and kidney transplant and disease centres in Egypt, the Middle East, Africa, the Mediterranean, the UK and US.
He was a prolific author who published countless research papers, and was recipient of a large number of national and international awards and honours among which are the Egyptian State Appreciation Award in Advanced Technological Sciences: 2009; The Egyptian Order of Arts and Sciences First Class: 2013; the International Award of the National Kidney Foundation of the USA, Baltimore: 1992; and the International Society of Nephrology Pioneer Award – Africa: 2014.
In an autobiography titled “My journey in and with Nephrology” published by the Saudi Journal of Kidney Disease and Transplantation, volume 16, No. 3, 2005; Dr R. Barsoum wrote on his start on the path of Nephrology:
“I graduated in 1962, and got the Golden Medal in Internal Medicine. Professor El-Mofti called me by the end of my internship year, and offered me to be the first registrar in a new section that he has been developing, nephrology. At that time, kidney disease was virtually untreatable, and renal failure was almost the synonym of death; really gloomy. I wanted to become a neurosurgeon, and was about to decline the offer when he brought me a bunch of papers on the contemporary successes already achieved in dialysis and transplantation, and challenged me to cope with this growing specialty. His words still wobble in my ears; ‘you may become an extraordinary neurosurgeon, but here is a chance for becoming a pioneer’. I decided to take the challenge.”
The details of Dr R. Barsoum’s career in Nephrology with all its intricacies makes for an astounding story of success, but perhaps much more, it reads as a wonderful message of love, dedication, humbleness, sense of purpose and duty, and unfailing service. The epilogue is especially moving:
“One more year to go before I complete half a century on this exciting journey. I am content with its outcome, the hardships and failures as much as the successes and rewards. In many areas, my achievements have exceeded the most extravagant of my ambitions, thanks to God’s will, the support of my family and the help of all those mentors, colleagues, students and assistants. If I am to grade the order of what gives me the highest pride, I would put at the very top those successive generations of students that I had the chance to teach or train, who still remember the days or years they spent with me at university or elsewhere, and care to mention my name in meetings or private conversations, to call me for a seasonal greeting, or to send me a Christmas or Easter Card. May God bless them all.”
In 2015, Watani International published an interview with Dr Rashad Barsoum, focusing on a topic especially close to Dr R. Barsoum’s heart: that of organ donation, a major requisite for organ transplantation.
Today, we honour Dr Barsoum by republishing the 2015 interview he gave Watani.
26 October 2022