Khodadoust Honored as a ‘National Treasure’

Khodadoust Honored  as a ‘National Treasure’Khodadoust Honored  as a ‘National Treasure’

Dr. Ali Asghar Khodadoust is well-known both in medical circles and among ordinary people not just for his scientific achievements, but also for his benevolence and passion for helping his fellow compatriots . The world-renowned ophthalmologist who conducted surgery on former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s eyes, refers to himself as ‘’God’s sawbones.’’

Khodadoust’s global reputation is rooted in his extensive studies on corneal diseases and transplantation biology. As a result of his devotion, several famous American ophthalmologists have recognized him as the world’s best corneal graft surgeon. Due to his exceptionally impressive achievements, a clinical finding has been named in his honor, the “Khodadoust Line”, or chronic focal transplant reaction, which is a medical sign that indicates a complication of corneal graft surgery on the eye.

A ceremony was held on Feb. 27 in the Grand Hotel, Shiraz - Dr. Khodadoust’s hometown - to honor his life and a career that has spanned 53 years. The event, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was attended by notable figures including the head of Iran’s National UNESCO Commission, Mohammad Reza Saeed Abadi and former foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi.

  Humanity & Science    

Kharrazi who heads the Strategic Council of Iran’s Foreign Relations said his acquaintance with Khodadoust goes back to 25 years ago when he was the permanent representative at the United Nations and on a mission to reach out to Iranians living abroad.

‘’Back then, Iranian expatriates did not have much contact within Iran and one person who helped narrow that gap was Dr. Khodadoust,’’ Kharrazi recalled. In addition to being a great contributor to medicine, he was also “brimming with love and affection for his compatriots.”

Referring to him as ‘hakim’- an honorary title meaning a wise physician - Karrazi said Khodadoust is a national treasure who belongs to the country and his efforts in imparting knowledge to the younger generation are laudable.  He also praised his role in establishing an eye clinic in Shiraz as a symbol of his devotion to his people. ‘’A hakim heals not just people’s body’s but also their souls’’, Kharrazi said.

  National Icon

The current and former governors of Fars Province also paid tributes to the celebrated ophthalmologist. Mohammad Ahmadi, Fars Province governor compared him to Dr. Ali Malek Hosseini – a pioneer in liver transplant in the Middle East from Fars Province. Shiraz is proud of the likes of Khodadoust and Malek Hosseini, he said.

Ex-governor Mohammad Ebrahim Ansari Lari extolled Khodadoust’s services and attributed the secret of his success and popularity to his ‘’love and faith.’’

Dr. Alborzi, a former student said, besides training in medical science, Khodadoust also taught them ‘’the art of being a human.’’ Unlike others who moved their wealth abroad, he used his wealth to build a hospital in Shiraz and also trained hundreds of others.

  Solitary Reflections

Responding to the plaudits, Khodadoust said ‘’you have put a very heavy burden on my shoulders with your words.’’ Humans were created “to achieve the lofty goal of being human which is to connect with the divine, therefore one should always walk with God.’’ These days, “I feel more introspective and ponder over the purpose of all my labor in life to discover the meaning of life and death. The physical body is just an edifice, and human organs are just for the preservation of the entity inside ‘this cage.’’’

He reminisced on a crucial juncture in his life where he had to choose between living in the United States or return to Iran and said: ‘’I am glad that I am in Iran today’’.

The ceremony to honor Khodadoust was also unique as it was the first such event held in Iran by UNESCO to honor a living figure. Saeed Abadi quoted verses from Persian poets Rumi and Ferdowsi to acknowledge Khodadoust’s career: “He sowed nothing but the seeds of love and kindness in the field of art, and we at the UNESCO salute his valuable services.”