Daily Archives: September 14, 2008

Native son, neurosurgeon – Dr Ayub Ommaya

Khalid Hasan writing for the Friday Times

Utterly unmarked in Pakistan was the recent death of Dr Ayub Ommaya, which is ironic because with him is gone from the scene one of the world’s greatest neurosurgeons, who pioneered several life-saving procedures, and who is remembered here to this day as having performed a legendary 18 hour operation on a 36-year-old man came as close to doing the impossible.

Dr Ommaya, who belonged to Abbotabad, was a remarkable man whose talents lay in many directions, from operatic music to mysticism to working for inter-religious harmony. He graduated with a medical degree from King Edward Medical College, Lahore in 1953. His friend, cardiac surgeon Dr Riaz Haider, who was two years his junior at King Edward and who has lived and practised medicine in the United States for close to 40 years, recalled for me their days as students in Lahore. Ayub, Dr Haider reminisced, was a brilliant student, but then he was good at anything he chose to do. He was a swimmer and a debater; he sang and he could play the piano. He graduated from King Edward with honours and went on to win a Rhodes scholarship that took him to Oxford, where he studied physiology of the brain and human emotions, finishing with honours in 1956. He stayed on in England and four years later, in 1960, was made a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. A year later, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree in clinical biology from Oxford. In 1964, he was named Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons. Along the way, he had published 60 research papers in international medical journals. Continue reading


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