Tributes are pouring in for veteran Emirati surgeon Dr Ahmad Kazim, who died aged 89 on Monday.
Having been qualified almost 66 years ago in 1955, Dr Kazim was the first Emirati surgeon (orthopaedic). He was known not only for his dedicated service to patients, but was also beloved for having a heart of gold.
Mourning the loss, his daughter Dr Houriya Kazim, a well-known specialist breast surgeon, took to social media to pay a rich tribute to her father.
She wrote: “My father — anatomy whiz and accomplished surgeon — had little sense of direction outside of the human body. My whole childhood was filled with him pointing out various landmarks to me. ‘When you see the Trade Centre, follow this road. It’ll take you home’ and ‘This tree (in a savannah of trees!) is the one closest to home’.
Little did he know that he was my landmark. The one I looked to when I was lost. The one I sought out when I needed direction. Yesterday, my landmark left for his heavenly abode. And when it’s time to go home, I hope I hear his voice again.”
Dr Kazim, one of the pioneer orthopaedic surgeons of the UAE, began serving the community after completing his MBBS from Bombay University.
Originally from Dubai, he completed his schooling at Francis Xavier and Grant Medical College in Bombay. While at medical school, the partition of India happened, which meant he couldn’t stay in Bombay.
As there were no major hospitals to work at in Dubai at the time, Dr Houriya said her father applied for various jobs around the world, including the oil fields of Abadan in Iran, Aden and Brazil.
His first job offer came for a post as casualty officer at Port Of Spain (POS) General Hospital in Trinidad, West Indies.
Eventually, he went to London to train as a bone specialist, got married to Sultana Faruk and had his first daughter, Dr Houriya.
“He was the first Emirati surgeon receiving his fellowship in surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1958 and from the Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1960,” she said.
Dr Kazim then returned to Trinidad in the summer of 1962 with his wife and eldest daughter. He continued to work at POS General Hospital and at his private orthopaedic practice there until 1977, when he returned to the UAE.
A patient’s testimony
Recalling her brief, but memorable experience with Dr Kazim, Dubai resident NP said she visited his clinic after spraining her foot.
“A doctor and a gentleman, I found Dr Kazim extremely soft-spoken and reassuring, also very well-versed in his subject. He gave me simple yet effective advice and exercise,” she said.
To this day, she remembers that he advised her against taking supplements, saying the food available in the UAE was rich and diverse enough to take care of one’s nutritional needs.
“I consulted him twice and will always have a fond memory of an engaging Emirati personality whose legacy will live on,” she said.
A father figure to staff
Linda, a registered nurse who was in charge of Dr Kazim’s clinic in Bur Dubai before it closed down in 2019 following his retirement, said she started her career in Dubai with the late doctor’s help.
“I worked under Dr Kazim for 10 years from 2009 to 2019 and it was a very enriching experience I must say, as I not only learnt about the medical specialty that he had expertise in, but also learnt how to treat patients selflessly. He would not only treat his patients medically but would also psychologically support them, council them,” she said.
When she first came to the clinic, Linda had yet to receive her nursing license. But Dr Kazim guided her through the process and even went out of his way to help her. His kindness extended to all staff members, who Linda said were treated like his family.
“He would even invite us home for occasions and we also were on friendly terms with all his family members, whom we are still in touch with after the clinic shut down in 2019.
“His family helped us all get jobs in our new work place and ensured we settled well. He and his family never left us, but stayed with us and protected us like their own. I have truly experienced Emirati culture and hospitality after being introduced to Dr Kazim and his family,” she said.
Reminiscing about Dr Kazim and lauding his expertise, Dr Amit Bathia, a family physician, who worked with the veteran doctor for more than 35 years, said: “I worked with Dr Kazim sine 1987 till 2019. He was a very kind-hearted and supportive human being, a real gem I would say. His diagnosis was on spot and he was known for his perfection. People would come from oversees such as Saudi Arabia and Oman — to consult him as his diagnosis was par excellence.”
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