Faces in the Crowd- The Passionate Physician

Posted on October 4, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with 4 comments

Dr.Najeeb Kadir


“I do not believe in any wars, past or present. War is not for human beings.”

Meet Dr. Najeeb Kadir.

Najeeb Kadir was born in Kifri, Iraq in 1958. He was the middle of three children and at an early age, the family moved to Diyali, Iraq where his father worked as courtroom clerk. His mother stayed at home with the children and impressed upon them the importance of education as she was an educated woman. After he completed grade 11, the family moved once again, this time to Baghdad where there were more opportunities and better schools.

It seems that nearly every Iraqi family wanted their children to become engineers or doctors as these occupations could provide a better life. Najeeb had three uncles who were well educated. As a result, he had access to books and picked up a great deal of English in his teenage years. Gaining high marks in the national standardized test for all grade twelve students, Najeeb chose medicine from a list of possible options prescribed by the government. The journey to becoming a doctor was just beginning, the great hope of his family.

A university education was free in Iraq. This included expensive medical books. He enrolled at the University of Baghdad School of Medicine in 1976. He spent these years living at home and besides his studies, he enjoyed the social life and sports, particularly soccer. In year four of the six year program, he decided that he wanted to be a surgeon.

The Iran Iraq war threw a curve into Najeeb’s life and his studies. In 1982, the government of Iraq headed by Saddam Hussein issued a decree forcing many young doctors into the army. For three months, Najeeb attended boot camp and learned how to use a gun, a far cry from the surgeon’s scalpel.  For the next two and a half years, he was posted with an infantry regiment on the front lines of the conflict, about one kilometre from the war zone. He performed lifesaving procedures, witnessing the horrors of war on a daily basis. He knew that if he were to suffer from PTSD, his future would be in jeopardy. For this reason, he focused on his own person safety and that of his family back home as a distraction from the trauma which was all around him.

This experience of war and human suffering, transformed Najeeb’s life. “I learned to cherish human life. I was very motivated to spending the rest of my life to help people get out of their misery.”

He spent an additional one and a half years in a military hospital away from the front lines before being discharged. He continued his studies in Glasgow, Scotland for two years. In 1990, he was a fully qualified surgeon. He was now married with a wife, two sons and a daughter.

He was adamant that he didn’t want to continue his career in Iraq.

Due to ongoing travel embargos, he ended up going to Libya to practice medicine. He then moved on to Dubai. A chance meeting in the hallway one day with the head nurse, known as the matron, changed the trajectory of his life. “How long are you intending to stay in Dubai?” she asked the young surgeon. “There is no future for you here. I am going to Canada. You could make a contribution in Canada. You will find a brighter future there.”

In 2004, Najeeb received a permanent residency visa to Canada and headed for Toronto. He had a friend in Halifax who was a businessman who invited him to come for a visit. While in the city, Najeeb met Dr.Robert Stone. Najeeb credits Dr.Stone as very influential person in shaping his life. Eventually, he got licensed in the province of Nova Scotia and in 2006 was recruited by the hospital in Yarmouth. In 2008, he had an opportunity to do a locum in Amherst and that’s where he’s been ever since. During a ten year period, he has been the chief of staff at the hospital as well as the chief of surgery. He has glowing words for his colleagues in the surgical unit.

In 2015, he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada.

To keep physically and mentally sharp, he goes to the gym seven days a week. Another part of his workout regime happens inside a boxing ring where he spars two to three times a week.  “When your body is healthy, your mind is at ease. When your mind is at ease, you can handle stress better,” says Dr.Kadir.

“I love Canada where human rights are respected. This country has provided me with an excellent quality of life.”

Dr.Najeeb Kadir loves his work, loves his family and his adopted country.

“I am a very passionate person. Passion encompasses every fibre of my being: my hands, my feet, my heart, and my soul.”

The improbable road from Iraq to Amherst has been challenging but this is what has fuelled the “passionate physician.”

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