In January 2018, my family and I went for a holiday to Budapest, as my son was interested in going there to study.
Late one evening at dinner, I received a call from my friend and colleague at the Nazareth Hospital, Dr Fahed Hakim: could I do an ultrasound in Budapest for a sick Nazarene child? I laughed, as we often joke about how I do ultrasounds all the time and everywhere.
But he was serious. He told me there was a child from Nazareth, in a Budapest ER, needing an urgent diagnostic ultrasound scan. But the hospital had no qualified doctor to perform this scan. The family had called Dr Fahed for advice. Fortunately, he knew I was on holiday in the same city.
I remember getting up from the table and asking for the hospital’s address without even thinking. When I told my family and friends I had to go and check on a child in the ER, they were shocked: “What are you talking about! You’re on holiday! You work in the ER at Nazareth, not here!”
I hurried to the hospital where I met the child and his family, who were surprised to see a doctor from Nazareth. With the hospital’s permission I examined the child and performed the scan – he needed immediate surgery. Sharing my diagnosis with the family wasn’t easy. I had to tell them their child had to be operated on right away to prevent serious harm. But the family trusted me: “Dr Najib, do what must be done.”
The child underwent successful surgery that same night. The next day he already felt so much better. A month later I followed up with the family back home in Nazareth. It was a very emotional meeting and you could see the joy and gratitude on their faces. It was wonderful to see this lovely child so healthy and happy among his family.
It was a blessing for me to be able to help someone in a desperate situation, realising that it’s not important where they come from or what their background is. My faith tells me it is the right thing to do if we truly love our neighbour. Offering that unconditional help also strengthens my belief that we must help all people who come to us in need – it’s following Christ’s example and teaching. My faith gives me the strength to do so again and again.