Poland honors Saudi surgeon for performing rare operation, saving child’s life

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Saudi Dr. Abdulaziz al-Khalidi, a thoracic and cardiac surgeon at the Prince Sultan Center for Cardiology, received the Polish Medal of Honor at the Polish embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh, after a successful operation to repair more than 16 arteries for a Polish child in a rare operation.

Dr. Khalidi is one of the few consultants in the region specialized in pulmonary stenosis surgery, and the only one that conducts such operations.

When asked about the Polish child and how he came to know about his medical situation, Dr. Khalidi told Al Arabiya English: “When I was head of cardiac surgery at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh, I established a program with Dr. Omar al-Tamimi, the head of the Department of Cardiology at King Abdulaziz University in Riyadh, Consultant Pediatrics and Cardiac Catheterization following my return from studing in the United States.”

He added that they established a program for pulmonary arterial surgery, which is rare and complex, to make Saudi Arabia the only country in the region after the United States to operate on such complicated cases.

Dr. Khalidi said: “There is only one center in America, but thanks to God, now we have one in the Kingdom, and we received some cases from abroad.”

Saudi surgeon honored by Poland. (Supplied)
Saudi surgeon honored by Poland. (Supplied)

Dr. Khalidi said that he was contacted by the University of Warsaw’s pediatric cardiology department in 2015, who asked him to consult on a patient who was 11 months old. The baby had severe pulmonary stenosis and had been in intensive care since birth.

“The university told me that they could write a letter to the Polish government and the prime minister of Poland who sent an official letter to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“Then the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques issued a direct order to move the child urgently from Poland to Riyadh. His condition which was very dangerous, and we transferred him to intensive care and then we underwent a complex rehabilitation in two stages, long operations, and thank God he fully recovered after 3 months of treatment,” Dr. Khalidi added.

Following the success of this case, the Polish government sent Dr. Khalidi a Medal of Honor, and honored him in a ceremony at the Polish embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Khalidi's program has treated 450 patients with severe arterial issues, including 40 children.

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