A native of Byblos, Lebanon, first-year Student Doctor Jad Imad has vivid memories of brutal terrorist attacks and wars. Living through war, witnessing the suffering around him and seeing the impact that rescue workers had on the people of Lebanon inspired his decision at a young age to study medicine. At age 17, Imad moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and began pursuing that dream.
During his undergraduate years, Imad began working as an emergency medical technician (EMT). It was a job he loved because it offered daily opportunities to help others and save lives. Then, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Imad’s father has chronic health issues that put him at greater risk for developing complications if he contracts the virus. As an EMT, Imad knew he would have exposures and he could not risk bringing the virus into their home. Forced to choose between his job of four years and protecting his father from getting sick, Imad made the difficult decision to resign.
“It was an unknown virus for which there was no vaccine at the time. Hospitals were full. Even if my dad only needed oxygen and minimal care, he would not have been able to receive that,” remarked Imad. “I would have never forgiven myself if he got sick because of my exposure to the virus.”
No longer able to serve his community as an EMT, Imad knew he had to act. He could not sit idle while his colleagues cared for the sick. “I went from saving lives in the field to sitting at home at a time when health care workers were needed more than ever. I felt completely useless. I had to do something,” he said.
When personal protective equipment came in short supply for front line workers, Imad’s mother, a seamstress, and his father helped him make more than 800 masks. Additionally, Imad organized a fundraising effort to provide N95 masks, gloves, gowns and wipes for five health care facilities in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont. But he didn’t stop there. He harnessed the power of social media to launch Jad’s Med Talk—a series of videos and posts aimed at raising awareness about COVID-19, sharing information about safety measures and addressing myths. He produced videos in Arabic to reach people in Lebanon, his birth country. His videos reached more than 9000 views.
In recognition of his extraordinary efforts to address pandemic-related needs in his community, the American Osteopathic Foundation honored Imad recently with the 2022 COVID-19 Osteopathic Hero Award.
“I want people to know that our wants and needs must be put aside when the health of our families, friends, and communities is in danger,” said Imad. “Even if we can’t help the masses in times of crisis, we can do small things that make a big difference when we put the needs of others above our own.”
Kansas City University is immensely proud of Student Doctor Imad for his exemplary service to his community. Truly, he personifies our mission of improving the well-being of the communities we serve.