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Saudi surgeon travels around the world volunteering to treat patients

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Time: October 31, 2018   

Dr. Khalid Al-Otaibi with his patients in an African country. The Saudi endoscopic surgeon believes that reaching out to patients is more compassionate than making them travel to the clinics.

By Mohammed Jarrah

For 18 years, Saudi doctor Khalid Al-Otaibi has been used to travel to his patients inside Saudi Arabia and abroad, refusing to restrict himself to his clinic. He preferred to volunteer and reach out to his patients instead.

Al-Otaibi, an endoscopic surgeon and a consultant urologist and nephrologist, considers that a doctor who volunteers to reach out to patients is more compassionate than others who make them wait for appointments and bear the burden of traveling to their clinics.

Al-Otaibi, who is considered the first surgeon to perform renal nephropathy operation in the Middle East in 1996, tells Al-Arabiya English how he would dedicate days from his annual leave to visit patients.

“Upon returning from Canada in 1996, I started traveling locally to hospitals, visiting patients in Asir, Hail and Riyadh,” he said.

“In those periods, I would take leave to travel outside the Kingdom to conduct operations. I visited Sudan, Sierra Leone and the Comoros. We were a group of doctors. We set up a surgical camp that includes a number of specializations in coordination with the host country and we worked 12 hours a day despite the difficulty of the place and the underdeveloped equipment,” Al-Otaibi said. “It is true that the doctor would still benefit his patients in his clinic, but reaching out to different segments of people benefits not only the patient, but even the doctor, who acquires experiences and deals with diseases and situations he may not have dealt with before,” he added.

Al-Otaibi is currently in the city of Bisha, southern Saudi Arabia, as part of a Health Ministry program that offers the service of visiting doctors in cities that are far from major medical centers and lack the presence of specialist surgeons.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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