Source: The News-Enterprise
Hardin Memorial Health gastroenterologist Dr. Kashif Haider got his start in his home country of Pakistan.
He said he grew up on a farm and would watch his father, who was a physician, care for patients night and day at his clinic adjacent to their home.
Watching his father help those in need sparked his interest in medicine.
“I kind of idolized him,” Haider said. “He worked very hard and never took a day off.”
Haider attended King Edward Medical College in Pakistan and completed his residency and gastroenterology fellowship at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo. He said he moved to the United States in 1990 when he was 24.
Haider has worked with HMH for 21 years and raised his family here. He said he now has lived in Hardin County longer than anywhere else.
“It was just so welcoming that I never thought of leaving,” he said. “It became home.”
Haider’s parents and siblings also now live in the area. Political turmoil in Pakistan motivated his family to leave the country, he said.
Because of his prevalence as a physician, Haider said his father experienced multiple attempts on his life before he left Pakistan.
“I have very fond memories of my childhood in Pakistan, but in a way, we’re lucky that we’re not there,” he said.
Before his father left Pakistan, Haider and his brother, Ali, a Louisville ophthalmologist, would return to Pakistan to help at their father’s clinic. Haider now regularly travels to Karbala, Iraq, to help educate local doctors on gastroenterology and help residents in need.
Haider first visited Iraq in the late 1990s and he said he was horrified by the way its residents were treated by the leadership of former dictator Saddam Hussein. An enthusiast of ancient history, Haider again visited Iraq in 2009 and saw a need for health care leadership and personnel in the region as many Iraqi medical professionals fled during the height of the Iraq War.
Haider said he has seen a major improvement in health care quality over the years in Karbala, but he said help still is very much needed in the region.
He has gone on charity trips to the city at least once a year for the past nine years. He said he visited the town earlier this year and met a family that drove 300 miles for him to help their child. He said some patients come every time he visits.
“Stories like this make you want to go back again,” he said.
Stephen Toadvine, vice president at Baptist Health Lexington and former vice president for Hardin Memorial Health, joined Haider on his most recent trip to Karbala. Witnessing the work Haider has done to help locals was inspiring, he said.
“It’s just a testimony to who he his,” Toadvine said. “He’s a tremendous physician, husband, father, humanitarian and he’s giving his time and energy really sacrificially to really help this region of Iraq.”
In Hardin County, much of Haider’s work involves endoscopic procedures. He said one of the most important functions of his job is performing colon cancer screenings. He said screening awareness is extremely important.
“It’s a cancer that kills a lot of people, but is preventable,” he said. “So that means there’s something we can do that we are not doing.”
Haider is a member of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American Gastroenterology Association. He also is an honorary member of the Iraqi Society of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Haider said his trips to Iraq have made him value his job at home even more. Although he travels there to educate, he said he also learns along the way.
“People are the same. Their needs are the same. Their problems are the same wherever you go,” he said. “By doing this work, you feel like the world is a small village. You know everybody. And these barriers of race, language and religion, gender and color don’t exist anymore.”
Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.