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Kenyan medic who beats odds to rise to top in Germany



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A dilapidated, mud-walled house may not seem like one befitting the stature of a leading cardiopulmonary specialist in Germany, but for Anguche Amukobole, 40, that was home for many years.

Considered a genius by his close friends, Dr Anguche, a husband and father of two daughters, is the consultant in charge of Pulmonary Critical Care Unit in Saxony Anhalt, Germany.

“I lead a team of doctors in an intensive care unit specialising in ventilator weaning. Here, we attend to patients put on machine-assisted breathing after a major surgery or illness. This is a very specialised operation and it costs the patients over Sh300,000 per day,” he says.

Additionally, he trains medical graduates working towards specialising in respiratory medicine and also teaches medical school students in Otto von Guericke University.

Born in Molo, Nakuru County, he has risen to the second highest level in the medical hierarchy in Germany and played a key role towards the certification of their unit.

Fluent in Luhya, Kikuyu, Swahili, English, German and French, Dr Anguche is also a licensed private pilot. Although he now leads a relatively comfortable life, his early life was characterised by poverty, something that brings him pain at the mere thought of it.

“I was born to a very poor family. My father was a storekeeper at Molo Academy and his earnings were barely enough to sustain us,” he narrates.

“Since my father was a member of staff at the school, I was allowed to study there. He could not have afforded it otherwise. He eventually ended up losing the job.”

His academic brilliance made a huge difference to his success in life.

“In primary school, I scored everything in the metric tests that I did and was number one in my class from the time I joined primary school to when I completed Class Eight. This worked to my advantage as I was allowed to study at the school even after my father lost his job,” he recalls.

But Dr Anguche does not consider himself a genius as many claim. He believes he just made the best of the opportunities he got in school.

“Learning in a private school worked in my favour. Whereas my parents could not afford to buy me books, I was learning with students from well-off families who could afford them,” he narrates.

“To me, reading was an escape when life became unbearable. Unlike the owners of the books, I devoured every book I came across. Getting lost in the books was my remedy for the biting poverty at home.”

He scored 619 out of 700 marks in his KCPE in 1993, making him a village hero, in his words. He was among the top 20 students in the country.

Consequently, he got a place at Starehe Boys Centre and after Form Four, he joined the University of Nairobi to study medicine. Having passed his KCSE exams, he also got a scholarship to study a National Diploma in Computer Science.

His family was unable to pay his school fees, and so he had to solely rely on the Higher Education Loans Board to finance his education. From the little cash he could spare, he did a course in French and by the time he completed his medicine course, he had three different certifications.

Losing patients that knew he could have saved with better resources  made him quit working as a government doctor in Kenya.

“When I was working at the Kapenguria District Hospital, I lost a 19-year-old girl who developed complications when she was delivering. I had the knowledge and skills to save her, but we did not have the required facilities. That still haunts me to date. I decided I was not going to wear a white lab coat and oversee the deaths of Kenyans who I had the skills to save. I thus quit my job,” he says.

He then got into private practice and after working for a year and a half at Pandya Memorial Hospital in Mombasa, an opportunity to work in Germany surfaced and he took it up, a decision he does not regret.

He differs with those who argue that the country is losing its brilliant minds to Western countries, as he sees the country benefiting from knowledge transfer, cultural exchange and from the money that is sent back home by those working abroad.

According to him, Western countries do not actively come out to poach brilliant minds. Everyone starts out with the hope of changing their society, but it reaches a point where they have to settle for a quiet life and use their intellectual abilities where these are respected to the benefit of one’s family.

He hopes to keep doing his work until he cannot do it anymore.

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