1. Where and when were you born?
I was born in 1985 in a small town called Kibre Mengist, in the southern part of Ethiopia.
2. What was your family life like?
I was raised in a big family of 8, and as the only male child, I was always surrounded by girls. I am now married to Rahel Tilahun (also currently training at SACH in anesthesiology) and we have a 5-year-old princess, Yulia who is here in Israel with us.
3. Why did you want to become a doctor?
Actually, I don't have any family members or close relatives who are medical professionals or anyone specific who inspired me to become a doctor. Just like any other kid who was raised in Ethiopia, I always wanted to be a doctor because of my desire to help people.
4. What experiences motivated you to pursue medicine?
Throughout my studies, I saw that there was an urgent need for physicians in my country and I saw many patients who had to travel long distances from the rural parts of Ethiopia to get the medical services they needed. This motivated me to pursue medicine and to contribute my share of responsibility to my people.
5. What medical training have you received and where?
I went to Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, for both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. I received my medical degree after seven and half years of study and a speciality certificate in general surgery after completing a four-year residency program at the same institution.
6. Why did you choose your specialty?
I selected cardiac surgery as a sub speciality, again, because of the huge gap in the service. At the time I decided to pursue training in cardiac surgery, there was no fully functional centre in the country that was able to provide cardiac services. As a result, many children with heart problems had two options to survive, either to fly out of the country for medical treatment or wait for medical teams who do medical missions usually twice or three times per year. I still see a huge gap in cardiac surgery service in my country given that there are few trained professionals and a limited availability of resources.
7. How did you find out about the medical training program in Israel?
I actually found out about SACH during medical school from of a friend of mine who underwent cardiac surgery in Israel during her childhood. She told me about her travel to Israel and her experience during her stay. Ultimately, I become connected with SACH through my immediate supervisor, Dr. Brehanu Nega, a cardiothoracic surgeon who was working closely with SACH.
8. Why did you decide to pursue the program with Save a Child's Heart?
There is currently a fully dedicated cardiac center in Addis Ababa, and a fully trained team now, including Dr. Yayu who also trained with SACH. I pursued this the program with SACH so that I would have the most advanced medical knowledge and skills to be able to join this team in the future.
9. What motivates you to train and return to your home country to practice medicine?
I am motivated by the miracles I see every day in the hospital. So many children come to Israel for cardiac surgery, and following successful surgery and recovery, they are able to return home as healthy children. I want to bring that kind of hope to my home country of Ethiopia.
10. How long is your training in Israel for?
My training will be for five years, I am currently in my second year.
11. What experiences have you had so far with Save a Child's Heart have stuck out to you - can you share a story?
One of the most unique parts about training with SACH is the commitment of our teachers. When I was working in the ICU, one of my teachers, Dr. Uri, an intensivist became a personal mentor of mine. He gave me lectures one-on-one, he helped me when I needed it and he even invited me for dinner in his home. The level of intimacy and care he provides to his students always amazes me and I continue to be very grateful to be part of this team.
12. What do you enjoy most about being Israel?
I really enjoy visiting all the historical places throughout the country. I feel like I am walking through the bible.