Mohamed Ghoneim graduated from the medical school of Cairo University in 1960. When I was still doing my postgraduate medical training I met Ghoneim, at the time a resident urologist.
Then Ghoneim went to England and the US before he came back to teach at the newly established Mansoura University.
A man with an insatiable will to learn and practice, Ghoneim, back in 1976, was the first to perform a kidney transplant in Egypt.
Ghoneim’s biggest dream was to establish an independent urology department at Mansoura University.
During a visit that late President Sadat paid to the university he met Ghoneim. Impressed by his personality and medical skills, Sadat assigned Ghoneim as a medical consultant to the president.
It was almost in parallel that Ghoneim presented the government of The Netherlands with a plan to establish his urology department. He successfully received a generous donation to establish the department, which became the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Throughout the years, this department upheld a high scientific standard and reputation. This was the fruit of hard labour, but also, of course, precise planning and organisation based upon accurate studies.
From day one, Ghoneim committed to the highest professional and scientific standards in his work and made sure that everyone around him followed suit. He made a point to equip his centre with the latest medical equipment and throughout the years made sure that this centre was always updated with the latest in advanced technologies.
Certainly, Ghoneim was successful in assembling an exceptional team of medical doctors, and he insisted that if they chose to work for the centre that they would take no other professional obligations, to ensure they would be fully dedicated to their tasks.
Moreover, Ghoneim made sure that the centre act not just as a provider of medical services but also as a centre for advanced research. This helped many of the medical doctors working for the centre to develop impressive research profiles, for which many received international awards and recognition.
As a prominent urologist who dedicated time and effort to scientific research, Ghoneim himself received many awards both at the national and international levels for his remarkable work.
Most recently, Ghoneim worked on a progressive scheme for stem cell plantation. This is certainly the work of a man who sees clearly the future of medical experimentation.
There is so much to say about the many positive aspects of Ghoneim.
I think Ghoneim is the only exceptional medical doctor who declined to start a private clinic and insisted on sticking to his low paying job with the university throughout his years as a prominent urologist.
Of course, this came at a price in his life standards, that were always humble compared to those of many less capable doctors who had pursued private practice. But it was a choice he took out of faith and with which he was always satisfied.
Ghoneim is a very dedicated person. He is particularly committed to his country and to his hometown of Mansoura. He has always been involved in many charities and even chose to support the otherwise uncelebrated Mansoura football team.
Ghoneim also always had a political vocation and as a student he joined several socialist organisations. For him, socialism is about social democracy – similar to the models adopted in north European countries that provide citizens with welfare on an equal basis along with freedom of expression.
Those are the principles to which Ghoneim committed himself throughout his life, whatever the terms of rule in Egypt – socialist, capitalist, dictatorial or semi-democratic.
Through years of serious and low-profile work, Ghoneim has truly placed the name of Egypt in a prominent medical position and his centre had established a high enough reputation for foreign doctors to come and pursue training with it.
In parallel, Ghoneim in 2010 was at the forefront of a big march that demanded reform and he joined the National Association for Change. He was present in Tahrir Square during the January Revolution and he took part in the legislative elections of 2012 and 2015 and voted for candidates that he thought could help bring Egypt the aspired to reforms.
President El-Sisi assigned Ghoneim to an advisory board to reforming education. He presented a study as part of that assignment but it is not clear what has become of his proposal.
Ghoneim is married to an admirable lady from Scotland who willingly and lovingly took Mansoura as her new hometown and who throughout the years has been fully at the side of this incredibly dedicated doctor.
I think that one of the things that has made Ghoneim an exceptional man is that he has unfailingly practiced what he preaches and has willingly dedicated his time to serving his country.
I will always wish him well. Forward ever, my very dear friend, Mohamed Ghoneim.
The writer is head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.