We’ve all come to understand how much we rely on our doctors and nurses to help those in need. But the extraordinary deeds of Dr Kamran Ali stand out as a prime example of dedicated medical professionals helping patients in the most trying circumstances.
For 40 days straight, Kamran left his wife Nazia and two boys – Rayyan, 10, and Moiz, eight – to see patients at suburban Brisbane clinics in Kenmore and Kallangur. Both practices are severely understaffed after former doctors moved interstate or stopped working on weekends, and have found it extremely difficult to find suitable replacements.
During these anxious times, Kamran was worried people in those communities – many of whom are elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions – would be left without proper and immediate care and attention. As a GP, he knew he must help them, even if this was at great personal cost.
“A lot of these clinics have stopped seeing new patients,” says Kamran. “My concern was if I leave these patients who are elderly or have chronic health conditions, where would they go? They would really struggle. So I thought I would just continue looking out for them and take a break when it’s needed.
“This is a tough time – not for me, it is for everyone. So if I can give what I can, then once things settle down I won’t have to do this again. That’s my mentality. I’m OK as long as I can cope, and I’ve been doing OK. I thought I’d just give my best.”
Driven to help others
Kamran hardly saw his wife and young boys over those seven weeks leading up to the Easter weekend, and he still works very long hours. Most days, he sees 30 to 50 patients.
What drives Kamran to help people isn’t personal glory, and it certainly isn’t money. “What I’m doing gives me a sense of accomplishment; a sense that I’m being something,” he says. “Not for me, not for my family – it’s more for helping people, being of use to others.
“We will never come across this kind of situation again in our lifetime, but at least when we grow older, I can tell my kids I gave it my best and not have any regrets.”
Many of Kamran’s patients have thanked him for devoting so much of his time to their health needs. “It makes me happy that my patients realise what we’re doing for them,” he says. “One of the ladies popped in and brought some nice food she made at home as a thank you. But I’m not expecting people to do that, especially when we’re telling them to stay at home.
“It’s a little bit better now but people were really panicking. They want a doctor to tell them what they should do. I say something to them and they take it seriously. They’re happy with that.”
Now Kamran is spreading the word about the importance of everyone having flu vaccinations so we’re all prepared for the upcoming winter.
Help starts at home
Kamran’s not only been helping people at his two suburban practices. His family believes helpfulness starts at home.
His wife Nazia and their sons sent handwritten notes to their neighbours. They read, in part, “We just wanted to check in and let you know that if you need anything from the shops, you can count on us.” The notes included Kamran’s mobile number in case anyone had any medical concerns.
“I had a lot of people calling us,” says Kamran. “We just want to make people around us know they’re not on their own. There’s someone trying to look after them. Each of us can do the same. If a lot of people do it, that creates a sense of unity.
“We need to give as much of ourselves as we can at this time. Every individual can contribute. At least I can tell people I did my part.”