Our team was deeply saddened to receive word of the sudden passing of Hiba Yusuf, a member of our professional advisory panel who was contributing to the creation of a culturally sensitive transplant education guide for Muslim Canadians with kidney disease. Hiba Yusuf had tremendous firsthand experience of the challenges, barriers and benefits associated with kidney transplantation. Her own kidneys failed due to IgA nephropathy and she received two kidney transplants: first, a living donor kidney transplant from her younger brother in 2001, and then a deceased donor kidney transplant in 2012 after the first transplanted kidney failed.
Hiba’s conversations with our researchers, and her 2015 CBC interview about her participation in the Human Library project in Ottawa, made evident how committed she was to giving back to a healthcare system in which she received these transplants enabling her to continue as a thriving, contributing member of society. Restored to better health, Hiba pursued a degree in cellular and molecular medicine at the University of Ottawa and worked for a decade as a kidney research technician.
When we first contacted Hiba to be part of our professional advisory panel, she was in the United Arab Emirates attending a family member’s wedding. Nonetheless, she overcame time zone differences and other constraints to reach out to us to express her great interest in contributing as a panel member. When the panel met in Toronto on September 22, Hiba could have opted to participate by teleconference from her home in Ottawa. But instead, she came down in person from Ottawa from Toronto to meet our researchers and her fellow panel members. This said a great deal about her passion for making a human connection and for raising awareness about organ transplantation within and beyond the Muslim community.
Hiba’s knowledge, energy and passion will be sorely missed and fondly remembered. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to work with her and we extend our sincere condolences to her family members and friends.