One man’s journey from preemie to doctor-in-training
U of T med student spent much of his life at Sick Kids as a patient. Now, he’s back to help FOLLOW SHEHATA’S JOURNEYAT
Adam Shehata has been inside the Hospital for Sick Children hundreds of times in his 36 years.
First, as an infant, struggling to survive in the hospital’s NICU after being born 16 weeks too early and on the threshold of life.
Then, as a child, during weekly visits for his many follow-up appointments.
And later, as an adult, Shehata found himself back at Sick Kids for an unexpected visit, during which he and his wife learned their longed-for first pregnancy would have a devastating end.
But this week, Shehata entered the hospital, not as a patient or a parent, but as a doctor-in-training, a step toward fulfilling his dream of becoming a pediatric surgeon at the renowned hospital.
“I’m fortunate for so many reasons, and much of it has to do with the care I received at Sick Kids,” Shehata says. “And now it’s a really nice feeling to know I can start to give back.”
Shehata, a third-year medical student at the University of Toronto, started his sixweek pediatrics rotation at Sick Kids on Monday, Nov. 26.
That morning, during his subway commute to the hospital, Shehata found himself reflecting on what it meant to THESTAR.COM/
GTA go back to the place that once saved his life. This time, and against the odds, he would be the one helping children.
Shehata hadn’t planned on making his thoughts public. But once he saw the big, illu- minated Sick Kids sign towering above the main entrance, Shehata snapped a photo of the building’s facade and posted it on Twitter, along with several tweets briefly outlining his health journey.
His Twitter thread, which includes the following statement — “We can never truly know the impact we will have on other people’s lives” — has since been ‘liked’ more than
2,000 times and has generated dozens of comments. This is a lot of online attention for Shehata, who has roughly 350 Twitter followers.
“I think it’s the kind of story that people are longing for,” he says. “People are always rooting for the underdog. And though I don’t see myself in that position now, I certainly was an underdog when I was a baby, born at
24 weeks, with such long odds for survival.”
At 36, Shehata is a bit late to medical school; many of his classmates are in their early 20s.
But Shehata, who applied five times to med school before being accepted by the University of Toronto in the spring of 2015, knows he brings a host of skills.
Shehata is a professional pilot with a university degree in aviation business management. He also has a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.
While in his 20s, Shehata focused on his passion for aviation, earning his Class I Flight Instructor rating, which allowed him to teach commercial pilots how to fly, and then acquiring his airline transport pilot licence, which is needed to captain large commercial airliners.
But in 2010, at age 28, Shehata decided to become a doctor after a life-changing experience that took place with his wife, Christina.
The pair, who had married the previous year, had been referred to Sick Kids after learning their unborn baby had a severe heart defect.
Adam Shehata, 36, is a third-year medical student doing a rotation at Sick Kids Hospital. He himself was a premature baby at Sick Kids, but he beat the odds and has now returned to the hospital to “give back.”