Zim’s US-Based First Female Surgeon Pens Book On Black Female Surgeons

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

ZIMBABWE’S first female surgeon now based in the United States, Praise Matemavi, has published her second book, “Passion and Purpose: Black Female Surgeons”.

The book talks about the courage of women in the medical field across the globe as they follow their dreams.
It is a collection of stories and interviews of black female surgeons from 27 countries in the USA, United Kingdom, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

“This book is a celebration of those who have gone before us and the many men and women of different colours who have made it possible for us to reach our potential. We are certainly our ancestors’ wildest dreams come true,” she said.

Matemavi became a mother at the age of 18 but managed to use her past life experience to shape her present and future life and made it in the American medical field.

“These women were girls with visions who had the courage and fortitude to follow their dreams and embark on journeys that for most, no one who looked like them embarked on before,” Matemavi said.

“They set their sights on goals that were crystal clear in their minds even though at times no one else could see their vision.”

“Surgical training is one of the most difficult of the training specialties in medicine and requires physical and mental stamina.”

“The contributors for this book overcame insurmountable odds, they are the definition of grit and resilience. They range in experience from intern to full professor.”

She added: “They are among the determined and fierce women featured in this book.”

Those featured Passion and Purpose include the first African American female pediatric surgeon, the first female president of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, the first African American Director of Member Services at the American College of Surgeons.

In Africa, she features the first female neurosurgeon from Uganda and Rwanda, the first female urologist in Zambia, the first pediatric surgeon in Zambia, the only female breast cancer surgeon in Kenya, the first female cardiothoracic surgeon in Nigeria and West Africa, the first female Zimbabwean orthopedic surgeon, and the first female pediatric and urological surgeon in Kenya.

“These and other phenomenal women share pearls of wisdom of how they achieved and thrive as women of color in a male-dominated field,” she said.

“All the surgical specialties are represented. I was inspired to write this book when I finished my specialty training in multi-organ transplant and hepatobiliary (liver and gallbladder) surgery.”
“As a child, I had the dream of becoming a doctor, but never had a frame of reference of a doctor that looked like me.

“This book has been a labor of love. I spent many nights and weekends contacting women via email and social media asking them if they would be part of this book.

“I remember wishing I had a book about women who looked like me doing what I wanted to do during my journey.
Matemavi is a multi-visceral transplant surgery fellow at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre. She graduated from Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine and did her general surgery residency at New York Presbyterian Queens Hospital.

She is the author of “Lessons for my Daughter: Adapted from life experience”. It is a guide she wrote for her daughter, an avid reader, runner, blogger, and an advocate for teenage mothers.