Dr. Sherif R. Zaki, an internationally renowned British surgeon and expert in treating Ebola and other infectious diseases, died in Birmingham on Monday of renal failure at the age of 65.
Dr. Zaki, who was once described as the “Genius of Birmingham,” was also the author of “The Surgical Gamebook: Anatomy of an Infectious Disease” (2011), a slim volume about the killing power of infectious diseases in the human body, which includes a chapter titled “It’s All a Game.”
He worked at the world’s top hospitals in Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, and elsewhere, in fact. He once caught a dangerous tick bite, preventing his death. He also cured a child’s bowel obstructions using “magic-putty-like” MicroBiocapsules, which were developed from fungi. In the 1980s, he took the first record-breaking train trip from the U.K. to Florida. In his book, he told of meeting a Salvadoran doctor in New York who handed him a drink in which he said “I’ve just swallowed the history of my country.”
He also spoke of the importance of having health care at the back of your mind on long rides in the U.S.
“One may spend a lifetime negotiating through the shifting sands of sensibility to visit America,” he wrote. “The visceral need for health is paramount.”
Most recently, Dr. Zaki had been the associate dean of health sciences at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, and director of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Infectious Disease Research Unit.
In 2015, he addressed a conference held at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine to address the plight of aging Ebola patients in Guinea, where the virus had been officially wiped out.
“When you’re so old that the young ones don’t have much hope in you anymore,” he told The Baltimore Sun in 2016, “there’s nothing left but death.”