Deepu Sudhakaran, MD, Bariatric Surgeon, Missouri
“17 yrs ago, circumstances brought me to US. With two bags and on a visa. Wanted to be a surgeon all my life. Everyone I talked to said, it’s an impossible dream in the US, being a foreign born physician. To get references I worked as a surgical tech, cleaned operating rooms, helped surgeons. Eventually I joined a preliminary program and made my way to finish my residency, two fellowships and an MBA. In the process, I did not see my children growing up, my beautiful wife ageing gracefully.
In another decade, I completed my terms of waiver job in the underserved area, applied for a national interest waiver to get my permanent residency in this country; but since, it has been a decade I am waiting. My two young children are citizen of this country and my wife is dependent on me. I am still hoping that one day I will be able to finally settle with my family in the community I serve, among the people that know me for decades, with the people that matter to me and in the place that I call my home.
One fine morning I woke up with a shoulder pain, got a CT scan to rule out blood clot, which incidentally found a tumor in my kidney, that was later discovered to be a cancer. I had to have one of my kidneys removed. With all my decades of struggle to establish a career and a family here, first time I introspected, what if I did not make it through the surgery? I don’t have any roots here; my wife would have to go back to India with two kids who never knew any other place than the US. Every day when I drive form work, I worry. If a mishap happens to me, what will happen to my wife and kids?
We all have a story to tell. Maybe your story just started. A story like: Age out children and cannot get into good colleges. Very skilled dependents not able to work. Cannot get a loan. Got in an illness and going to lose the job and the family has to go back… Many more… I can tell you now, if not today, one day these problems may come knocking your door…”