- What’s your name and how old are you?
Dr. Gerard Misago, 34 years old.
- Where are you from?
- What was your childhood like?
My childhood was good. I am from a rural area and the only thing there was to do was enjoy being with peers/colleagues. During vacation, we would sit together, pray together, and look after cows. I am the youngest of the family with 3 older brothers and 3 older sisters.
- Why did you want to become a doctor/work in medicine?
My uncle was a nurse at the nearest health center which was a smaller health facility. He treated me for malaria which was the only disease I ever had, and since then I started liking the profession of taking care of sick people. I formed the will to become a doctor but didn’t know how. A little after I started high school, I knew I needed to know sciences so I studied hard in the sciences so that I could prepare for my future career. I planned it from a young age.
- When did you know you wanted to go into medicine?
In my second high school, once I started studying the sciences, you had to choose one thing to focus on, so I chose biochemistry so then I could study medicine in university.
- Where did you study medicine/ what university did you go to?
University of Rwanda for general medicine, internship, and residency.
- How long did you study?
6 years of general medicine, 1 year of an internship at the hospital, and 4 years of pediatrics.
- How did you choose your major/specialty?
In my undergraduate program, I actually didn't declare pediatric as my specialty. But, after my internship year, I started in the hospital and they were encouraging me to do pediatrics. I chose to do it after noticing most of the kids die because they are not getting proper care. After working with pediatricians, I noticed that when they respond quickly, the children can recover quickly and I want to be able to contribute to that.
- Were you always strong in the sciences?
Yes. “When talking about the sciences, my eyes and my brain get ready for it.” I am also very interested in geography and history.
- How did you do after medical school/training?
After graduating medical school, I was appointed by the minister of health to a rural hospital where I was working as a pediatrician and I became a clinical director (head of the department). I was able to do some successful projects like trying to reduce mortality and trying to reduce hospitalization time for sick children because the longer they stay in the hospital, the more likely they are to acquire other diseases.
- Did someone ever tell you something specific that made you want to pursue medicine as a career?
It was all on my own interest but the more you advance, the more you discuss with people in the same career. My colleagues were always approaching me telling me that practicing medicine was good and you feel like you are making yourself available to everybody- poor or rich, young or elderly, you are at everyone's disposal which makes medicine very attractive.
- Are pediatric cardiac surgeries performed at all in Rwanda?
We have a long way to go but we started. We are not reaching the maximum but we are on the right track.
- When did you hear about SACH?
I actually did not know about it before but after reading the call for the application for pediatric cardiology, I went to the internet and I googled Save A Child’s Heart and got a lot more information.
- How did you get to SACH?
After reading about it, the minister of health made a call for an application because I was big in pediatrics. It was a big opportunity for me. I did an interview, was selected, and after selection I started the process of coming here.
- Were you always thinking of doing a fellowship abroad?
Since the second year of my residency in pediatrics, I started to think about cardiac care. After finishing residency as a general pediatrician, I was yearning for any opportunity to study pediatric cardiology wherever I could. I knew that abroad I might get exposed to more technology that is not available in Rwanda. I also considered that new kinds of diseases that might not be present in our countries would make studying abroad more interesting and I could learn more about diagnostic tests, etc.
- How long will you be in Israel?
- How does it feel to be in Israel for 3 years?
I am very happy to be here and feel like the people are very welcoming. After a few days, I felt at home. I am Christian and there are a lot of sites, so to feel that i am nearby them it feels motivating and makes me happy being here.
- What motivates you to train in Israel?
Israel is a country of adversity and care, and I knew there were intelligent people here discovering new things and technologies. I knew I would gain a lot of knowledge. I knew I would be exposed to a lot of procedures or technology that would help me go back with the capacity to be great and practice my cardiac career as a good doctor.
- What do people think back home about you being here?
Starting with my colleagues, when I was coming here, they were excited. Israel is one of the countries someone would wish to come to study in. There is adequate health care, technology, as well as Christian sites. Everyone was excited for me to get good knowledge, and the hope that I would bring many things back with me. My family was also excited for me as I am advancing in my medical career and that I would be able to be a specialist.
- Did you have any thoughts about coming to Israel before you arrived?
I knew that it was a new culture, but an interesting one. I am very interested in tourism and I would have always planned to come here as a tourist eventually as a Christian. I am planning to visit more places later after getting used to the country and environment.
- What is your hope for the future?
My hope for the future is being a good cardiologist because I care a lot about helping sick children. I feel very depressed when I see a young kid with a congenital defect and if I am unable to manage it, they will suffer a lot physically and psychologically, so I wish to get a lot of knowledge to treat as many kids as I can.
- Where will you work when you return home?
Now, I am under the supervision of the minister of health, so they will appoint me to a new hospital rather than the previous rural hospital when I return because there is no space/materials for pediatric cardiology there and it is mostly basic medicine.
- Anything else you’d like to say about SACH/anything else you think I’ve missed about your story?
SACH is a wonderful organization that I want to thank very much. It is astonishing when you see all the kids they treat and all the smiles they put on different children's faces without any boundaries like race or religion. I want to thank them for bringing us here to train us and making the project sustainable for years and years. We treat young, and they teach and educate- that is a big thing that they do. This big project could have fallen out, but since they have made it their mission to also treat and educate, the project is very sustainable. You see that some of the kids that are treated here would come back to train here later in life and that is the biggest accomplishment.