Hepatitis C is a global health crisis, infecting some 150 million people each year. Its devastating impact in Egypt became the inspiration for the medical career of Hani El-Halawany, a 2012 graduate of Saba University School of Medicine.
Nowhere is the Hep C virus more entrenched than in Egypt where one out of ten Egyptians (nearly nine million people) are infected with it. Research has linked the enormous scale of the problem there to public health campaigns in the 1950s-80s against the parasitic disease schistosomiasis. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians received injections from needles that were used over and over, inadvertently spreading Hep C. Egypt’s Hep C epidemic is considered one of the largest instances of the transmission of a blood-borne pathogen caused by a medical intervention. Born and raised in Kansas City, Hani El-Halawany grew up well aware of how the Hepatitis scourge was devastating his extended network of family and friends in Egypt.
Finding improved treatment was a key inspiration for his dream of becoming a physician and was a focus for his studies at Saba where he graduated in 2012. “This is a very exciting area of medicine which has changed significantly over the past several years,” Hani notes. “The Hep C virus was only discovered in 1989 and our understanding of the disease and its treatment is advancing every day with the advent of direct-acting, anti-viral medications.” Hani excelled as a student at Saba and served as class president. For him, a major advantage of going to Saba was the ability to come back to Kansas City for his clinical rotations. “Saba is very well known in Kansas City and you are well set up for getting a residency here.”
Hani is completing a one-year fellowship in Transplant Hepatology at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia (Hep C is the largest cause of liver transplants in the US). He has presented at both regional and national gastroenterology and hepatology conferences and will be starting a three-year Gastroenterology Fellowship back in Kansas City. This Saba grad is happy to be heading back to Kansas City with his wife and 1 year old twins—and to be taking another step in fighting the disease that first inspired his dream of becoming a physician.
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