Some of you might have read about the world’s first penile transplant that took place a few days ago. What you might not know is that one of the doctors who assisted in the surgery was a Kuwaiti (Dr Tallal AlQaoud). At first I was going to post about this myself but then realized it would make a lot more sense to have one of my friends who is an extremely talented surgeon himself and who has worked with Dr Tallal write the post instead. This is what he had to say about the surgery:
Kuwaiti Doctor Assists in World’s First Penile Transplant
As you may have read on reddit and pretty much everywhere else, surgeons in South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town have performed the first successful penile transplant recorded in history. It was performed by Professor André Van der Merwe and a team of urological surgeons.
This may not seem very significant unless you live in country where 500 men die every year from ritual circumcisions gone wrong but this is in fact a major breakthrough.
For urological surgeons restoring erectile function, urinary function and blood flow after a patient has had a penile amputation (due to trauma or cancer) is not difficult, it’s pretty much a pipe dream. To illustrate the point, the team based their methods on lessons learned from facial transplants and with the same level of complexity.
What you may not know is the story of the guy on the right bottom corner of the photo. That young surgeon is Dr Tallal AlQaoud; a Kuwaiti resident at McGill University.
While many people in our field first fall in love it for the competition, prestige or financial prospects, it’s a rare thing to see someone who is actually willing to train himself in surgery like an athlete would for the olympics.
Dr AlQaoud jumped into medicine after graduating from NES (Yes, the New English School). He went on to do his undergraduate degree in the UK and eventually returned to do his internship in Kuwait. After finishing his internship in Kuwait he felt the need to learn how to do research and build a solid knowledge of his field so he did a masters in the UK sacrificing a whole year of operating. He then went on to do a surgical residency at Mcgill and took time off to join Professor Van der Merwe’s team in South Africa.
It’s very rare that you get to meet a person like Tallal, when he could be learning the basics of his specialty he chose to concentrate on the academic aspect of his field and published industry leading journals, when he could have specialized in Kuwait or in England. Instead he chose to go further afield and train in North America where he was exposed everything from surgical robotics to transplantation. When he could have been enjoying ski season in Quebec, he chose to operate voluntarily in Cape Town. Then there was that time he had a Friday night off and decided to join me in an emergency surgery taking out a guys colon at midnight; but that’s a story for another day.
He is truly a person who has chosen a road less travelled and one of the rare occasions where Kuwait has made it’s mark on the history of medicine.
As much as I’d like to have interviewed him for this story or tried to promote him on it, he never had an instagram account, a blog and I’m pretty sure he’s forgotten his Facebook password. His response to me on whatsapp are in this post. I am indeed honoured to say I scrubbed in with a Kuwaiti who made it to the history books.
– Post by Saud, a Kuwaiti doctor living and working/training in Montreal. Twitter: @saudnz