Boris hands top surgeon major award for work with acid victims
MONEY TO HELP ‘CHANGE LIVES’
A SPECIALIST surgeon from Manchester has been honoured by the prime minister for his work over the years with acid attack victims in Pakistan.
Dr Asim Shahmalak volunteers, often using his own money, ‘with no thought of praise or reward,’ Boris Johnson told him in a personal letter. Over the last five years Dr Shahmalak, a father-of-two from Cheadle, has arranged numerous mercy missions with a team of medical staff to help mainly women left horrifically scarred with free hair, eyelash and eyebrow transplants. He’s one of the few surgeons in the world qualified to carry out the procedures, with Mr Johnson saying his vital work had changed lives.
Dr Shahmalak, who is based at Crown Clinic in Wythenshawe, is the latest recipient of a government Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers making a change in their community and inspiring others. In total, Dr Shahmalak has helped 27 people.
In his letter Mr Johnson said: “I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you are providing life-changing surgery to rebuild the faces of people in Pakistan who have experienced devastating acid attacks.”
One recipient for an award is selected across the country every day. Dr Shahmalak spoke of his pride at the recognition. He said: “I am humbled and honoured. The work is very important to me and my way of saying thank-you for the excellent medical training I received in Pakistan.
“It is wonderful to have my work recognised by the prime minister and the official gratitude means the world to the whole team.”
Among those he has helped is mother-of-two Fatima Muneer, 45, who was doused in sulphuric acid in a family feud over money and has had four reconstruction operations. Shopkeeper Niaz Bano, 53, lost her left eye after being hit with acid disguised in a cup of tea by an embittered relative in a row over her 16-year-old daughter’s wedding.
“I wept when I heard their stories,” said Dr Shahmalak.
The 58-year-old, who was born in Karachi but moved to the UK after qualifying as a doctor, was introduced to the patients by the Pakistan-based charity Depilex Smileagain Foundation.
Dr Asim Shahmalak has helped rebuild the lives of acid-attack victims