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The kidney transplant surgeon with a passion for carving busts

02 March, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Nadey Hakim, right, at the unveiling of his statue of Professor Roger Williams

NADEY Hakim is a man with a cutting sense of humour. Before I first spoke to him I had been told by a contact he was a Lebanese Christian – he is other things of course, such as a world renowned surgeon specialising in kidney transplants. Still, I was curious about his background, so when I glanced at an image he had sent by email, he told me over the phone: “Yes, you can tell it’s me, because I look Jewish!”

“Jewish?” I exclaimed. “I thought you were a Lebanese Christian.”

“Yes, I am,” he laughed, “but I look Jewish!”

The short interview with him over the phone just kept flying along those lines. I had been tipped off about him because he had sculpted a bust of another great transplant surgeon, Professor Roger Williams who is still practising – and carrying out research – at 86. The bust was unveiled on Thursday at King’s College London, by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

As for Professor Hakim he is not only a doctor and a surgeon he is also a prolific author, having published 150 peer-reviewed papers and authored or edited 21 textbooks in the field of general and transplant surgery. Somewhere along his 59 years he has also ended up holding various international posts, and been awarded various prizes.

He did his first kidney transplant 30-odd years ago and first pancreas transplant in 1995, since then has completed 340 pancreas transplants and 2,000 kidney transplant.

He is in great demand as one of the “kings” of transplants and flies to hospitals all over the world – often as part of his charity work. Typically, he will fly to Nigeria for the weekend and carry out three or so kidney transplants using organs from live donors.

Because he is so highly skilled he is able to complete a pancreas transplant in three hours in contrast to the average time of 12 to 13 hours.

He is equally fast in another line of work – as a sculptor. His passion for sculpting began 20 years and since then he completed busts of the Pope, Putin and David Cameron.

He took to sculpting 20 years ago and attends workshop at the Hampstead School of Art – not too far from his home in Cricklewood. Naturally, he was chosen to sculpt the bust of Professor Roger Williams which took 10 days, based on photographs.

In a speech to guests at the ceremony, Professor Hakim quoted Leonardo Da Vinci as saying: “Art is never finished only abandoned.” He said his bust of Professor Williams was a “tribute to one of the most towering figures in the history of transplantation.”


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