I first met Ahmed in December 1956 when he was a House Surgeon
on the Professorial Unit headed by Professor Julian Taylor in
Khartoum and I was the newly appointed Senior Lecturer. He had
graduated MB BS from the University of Khartoum in April 1956
with many distinctions and prizes. He was an excellent young and
ambitious doctor and so impressed Julian Taylor, then Vice-President
of the RCS England, that he was selected for postgraduate training
in the UK. In 1960, he was appointed a Lecturer in Surgery at the
University College Hospital London and then went on to take
the FRCS Eng. and FRCS Ed. in 1961. He then started training in
Cardiothoracic Surgery with Professor A.L.d'Abreu in Birmingham
and Andrew Logan in Edinburgh. In 1965, he completed his training
in Houston, Texas, with the renowned Michael De Bakey and Denton
Cooley. He became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in
1976 and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in
Cardiology in 1972.
Thereafter, he returned to Khartoum to set up the Cardiothoracic
Service at the Al Shaab Hospital, Khartoum. He was Head of the
Service until 1983. He was also Chief Surgeon at the Ministry of
Health and Director of Khartoum Teaching Hospital. Ahmed was
an excellent surgeon and developed cardiothoracic surgery in Sudan
giving it all his energies and expertise, in pioneering times. He was
then offered the post of Minister of Health by President Nimeiri
which he declined, instead becoming Commander and Lt. General
of the Army Medical Corps from 1984 until 1988. He was also
President of the Sudanese Medical Council and Foundation Professor
of Surgery at the Omdurman Islamic University and, subsequently,
Emeritus Professor of Surgery.
Having had a very successful career in surgery, Ahmed decided to
change direction and started to interest himself in Sharia Law and
Jurisprudence. He took a degree in Law from Cairo University and a
Masters Degree in Sharia Law in the University of Khartoum. Then,
at the University of London, he immersed himself further in Islamic
Jurisprudence in the School of African and Oriental Studies, which
culminated in the award of a Ph.D. by the University of London in
July 2000. The thesis was subsequently published in book-form as
The Fiqh of Medicine in 2001.
Ahmed was made an Honorary Fellow of RCSI in 1980 in recognition
of his role in promoting the training of Sudanese surgeons and
establishing strong training links with the College. Indeed, it was said
at that time that more than half of the Sudanese surgeons working
in the Sudan had training in Ireland and were Fellows of the Irish
College. He initiated a very successful visitation programme by
Irish surgeons to the Sudan, which has flourished and persisted to
the present day with, for example, the President of RCSI, Patrick
Broe, visiting Khartoum in June 2013. Ahmed made many enduring
friendships in Ireland.
His wife, Sayda, who survives him, was a very distinguished
obstetrician in Khartoum and they had three children one boy and
two girls. Khalid,who trained in Dublin, is a vascular surgeon at Soba
University Hospital, Khartoum, and Sarah is an ophthalmologist
in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin. His second
daughter, Azza, qualified as an anthropologist with a Ph.D. in
Ahmed and Sayda were a charming and most hospitable couple who
generously entertained their Irish visitors at their lovely, old, colonial-
style home near the tree-lined Gordon Avenue in Khartoum.
After a long and incapacitating illness, Ahmed died age 82 years, on
April 26, 2013, in London.
I wish to acknowledge the assistance of Dr Sarah Yacoub FRCSI
(oph); Mr Khalid Yacoub FRCSI; and Mr M.S. El Feil FRCSI in the
preparation of this appreciation.
ProfessorWilliam Mac Gowan, former Registrar, RCSI.
pRofESSoR ahmED aBDEl azIz YaCouB
frCsi (hon) 1931-2013