His name is Walid Ragab. He is originally from Beni Suef, a governorate located about 120 km south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River. I met him in the entrance hall of the Foundation one morning as I was arriving to work. Everybody seemed to know him and he was introduced to me by my colleague as the young patient boy who comes to Cairo all the way from Beni Suef by himself to receive his treatment. I was intrigued by the courage and resolve of this boy who I thought would never exceed the age of 14. He is frail and small. Though the tone of his voice is gentle and somehow lethargic, his eyes are lit with intelligence and curiosity. I wanted to know more about this young boy who travels alone to Cairo and sometimes stays overnight to do all the required tests during the treatment and follow-up phases.
MD: How old are you Walid?
WR: I am 19 years old. At the astonished and doubtful expression on my face, Walid promptly exhibits his identity card before me and gently explains that the brain tumor he suffers from has prevented him from growing up normally.
MD: When were you admitted in Hospital 57357?
WR: I think in 2015…or maybe in 2016…I do not know exactly when …. I think the cortisone I am taking is making me forget… I think I have been admitted two and a half years ago……. I suffered from an excruciating long lasting headache ….it made me feel like somebody was pulling out my two eyes. I went to a number of eye doctors, then to Abou El Reish Hospital because I couldn’t see see with my right eye, they said I had to undergo a surgery that required a sum of money. I had a tumor on the pituitary gland and it was pressing on my optic nerves. The pituitary gland is also known as the “master gland” because its hormones regulate other important endocrine glands. We had to remove the tumor and the pressure on the eyes very quickly ….We were advised to go to Hospital 57357 as they are specialized in brain tumor surgeries.
WR: I recall that because I was 17 years old , my parents were afraid that I would be too old to be admitted that is why they resorted to a friend of theirs to acquire a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Health. We took the letter and asked to meet with the CEO of the Hospital, Dr. Sherif Abouel Naga. I will never forget what he told us that day: I do not need this letter, you are 17 years old and we accept children from 0 to 18 years. You are going to receive the same treatment and care that we give to the son of a minister. In this place we treat all patients equally without any kind of discrimination , this is the core part of our mission.
After the surgery, the headache disappeared and I was seeing clearly with my left eye, but I still cannot see with my right eye….they told me that the optic nerve of the right eye is not damaged…. But they could not remove all the tumor because there was a risk that I could lose completely my eyesight. But Thank God the tumor is benign and I am doing regular tests to make sure it is not growing again…
MD: You seem to have a lot of information about your condition? From where did you get it, from the internet?
WR: Yes, I get a lot of information from the net. As a matter of fact, I am very good in informatics.
MD: what would you like to have as a profession?
WR: a youtube auditor or an Electronics or Informatics Engineer.
MD: Did you complete your schooling education? Are you enrolled in University?
WR: I joined the university of AlAzhar faculty of education. It is becoming very difficult for me to share a lodging with other students as they are afraid to be contaminated with the tumor I have. They think it is contagious.
MD: I have been told that you always come alone to the Hospital without your parents?
WR: My father passed away five years ago during Ramadan leaving my mom with four other boys and one sister who is 17 years old. The youngest of my brothers is in kinder garden and the oldest is studying for a diploma.
At the end of our chat Walid is eager to share with me how much he is grateful and appreciative of 57357: “You know coming to the Hospital is for me like coming home. I consider 57357 as my home. When I hear of people attacking the Hospital in the media it feels exactly as though they were attacking me personally. I use my computer skills to hack their accounts and write apologies to the hospital on their behalf!