Saudi doctors, currently practicing in France, initially left the kingdom to conduct medicals internships and specialization programs, now choosing to join the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 in the country’s overloaded hospitals. There are about 50 of them, holding qualifications in differing fields of medicine but all linked with the common desire to aid their host country and its people.
These medics are residing and working in France, many with their families, thanks to Saudi government-backed scholarships, covering their academic and training expenses. Now, in response to the devastating virus, they are providing their skills to any hospital and medical personnel who needs their helping hands, even if it is not in their field of expertise.
Some of them took the time to speak with Arab News and discuss their experiences, one of them being Dr. Qusay Mandoora, a 32-year-old Saudi urologist, now at the Parisian Pitié Salpêtrière hospital. “During the coronavirus outbreak, we offer our services to all doctors or personnel who ask for them. We follow the official protocols and take the necessary safety measures. We also try to cut down on our trips to the hospital in order to avoid exposure to, and possible spread of, COVID-19.”
Another young Saudi doctor working in the French capital is Ola Binhimd, who arrived in France in 2015, from Jeddah, and is currently in her final year as a plastic surgeon and reconstruction resident at the Necker Pediatric Hospital. Prior to the virus, the plan was to finish her internship there at the end of April, but it has been extended to the end of May due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The hospital made a number of changes in order to deal with this crisis. Before these cases were admitted, two operating rooms were ready every day and they were used to perform operations that were not urgent. Both of them have now been re-purposed and are not used except for emergency operations” she explains.
Saudi doctor Abdu Al-Khayri, is yet another example. He began studying neurosurgery in Riyadh and then transferred to France for his specialization, which he deems crucial to the development of his career.
“Saudi residents in France relocate to a different hospital every six months” he explained to Arab News. He attributes this system to his preparedness in dealing with a wide range of medical conditions.
Al-Khayri concludes with humility, in times of great uncertainty: “The more patients we treat, the more we learn.”