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Neurosurgeon Takes A Pay Cut To Perform Free Operations In Nigeria Every Month

Most of us grow up dreaming of accomplishing something great when we get older. Whether we wanted to be astronauts, actors, or athletes, we wanted to not only achieve a lot in life, but to enjoy a particular lifestyle that comes with those achievements.

Although many people never end up experiencing what it's like to live out those dreams, those who do will often say that it isn't quite what they expected. Unfortunately, this can mean that what they worked so hard to achieve feels a little hollow now that they actually have it.

For some, this leads to a turning point where they find a real purpose. After all, there are many ways to make your mark on the world and the world is in desperate need of some of them.

That became clear to one Louisiana neurosurgeon and he's not letting anything stop him from pursuing that purpose.

For 49-year-old Olawale Sulaiman, the life he now leads likely once seemed out of reach when he lived in Lagos, Nigeria.

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As he told CNN, "I am one of 10 children born into a polygamous family. My siblings and I shared one room where we often found ourselves sleeping on a mat on the floor."

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As those living conditions might suggest, Sulaiman's parents couldn't afford to send him to university.

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However, he was able to obtain a scholarship through a government program called the Bureau for External Aid that gave him a chance to study medicine in Bulgaria.

He said this scholarship opened many doors for him. So many, in fact, that he is now not only a neurosurgeon but chairman for the neurosurgery department and back and spine center at the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute in New Orleans.

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But once he made it to such a prestigious position, he started to feel a responsibility to use his knowledge on a grander scale.

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He was aware that Nigeria's healthcare system had a shortage of essential healthcare providers compared to its large population, so he started embarking on medical missions to not only provide that care himself but train others to do so.

He and his wife, Patricia, do this together through the healthcare development company they founded, RNZ Global.

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This organization has treated 500 people and prevented serious conditions in an additional 5,000 throughout the U.S. and Nigeria.

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As he told CNN, "I would use my vacation times for the medical missions, which were also planned with education and training sessions. We donated a lot of medications, equipment and hands-on training on surgical techniques."

Another neurosurgeon named Yusuf Salman also said that he and Sulaiman performed about 10 spinal surgeries during one of these missions for free.

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These missions didn't come without some sacrifice on Sulaiman's part, though.

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Since his missions can take up to 12 days a month, he has had to negotiate a 25% pay cut back in The States in exchange for the extended vacation time he needed to do this.

But cases like that of Philomena Arah, who couldn't walk or even stand straight without experiencing unbearable pain until Sulaiman removed a vertebral bone putting pressure on her spinal cord, make his work well worth the cost.

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The Sulaimans have since expanded RNZ Global to include the non-profit wing called RNZ foundation, which helps treat neurological diseases for free.

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He is also planning to establish four neuroscience centers in Nigeria in the future.

As he said, "I believe that happiness doesn't come from what you get, rather, it comes from what you give. There is always room to give; you don't need to be a millionaire to give."

h/t: CNN

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