Dr Tirej Brimo was months away from finishing his six-year course when he was forced to flee civil war in 2011
Syrian refugee finally qualifies as a doctor 10 years after starting medical training
A Syrian refugee has at long last qualified as a doctor in London - 10 years, four countries and 21 homes after he first began medical school.
In what he describes as the “longest journey” of his life, Dr Tirej Brimo was 10 months from finishing his six-year course when he was forced to flee Aleppo during the 2011 civil war.
The 27-year-old made attempts to complete his training in Egypt, but it wasn’t until he arrived in the UK in 2013 that he was able to pick up where he left off.
After he was rejected from most medical schools in Britain, he was offered a place at St George’s University Hospital in south west London, where he was allowed to join the five-year course in its third year.
Dr Brimo finally graduated four years to the day after he applied for asylum in London. Now, he wants to specialise in emergency medicine or trauma surgery.
He said: “Now I know what pain is, I am so ready to start my new role as a doctor and I am so ready to look after others’ loved ones. I promise, I will do it with a heart full of love and a smile full of hope.”
Dr Brimo was separated from his family when he fled Syria, criss-crossing the Middle East before claiming asylum in Britain. Happily, he since been reunited with his mother, brother and sister in the U.K.
Remembering the dark days of the civil war, he said: “When I first left Syria, I had nothing on me except an old bag stuffed with clothes and a shattered soul stuffed with anger.
“I still remember the way I cried when I first realised that everything was lost and I became just a number. We all became numbers, it was not only me.
“A refugee on job seekers' allowance who speaks some English, this is how I started my journey on this beautiful land, and here I am writing my graduation post fully In English.”
He also urged his fellow Syrians and refugees to never give up on their dreams - however bleak their future might seem.
“In spite of how difficult and emotionally draining this journey was, I am so grateful to all the beautiful souls that have ever helped me to keep my torch alive,” he added.
“The highest spirit who kept me protected and answered my prayers when it was the darkest, St George's University which believed in me, my family who supported me and my friends who were always there to remind me of what I am capable of.”
Dr Philippa Tostevin, the university’s medicine course director and reader in surgical education, said she did not hesitate to offer Dr Brimo a place, adding: “I remember the passion for medicine that he demonstrated at that interview and I am so proud of what he has achieved.”