M’sian Doctor Shares How He Often Has To Sacrifice His Sahur Meal To Take Care Of His Patients

In the sacred month of Ramadan, the call of duty becomes an even greater challenge for frontliners, particularly those in the medical field.

Among them, Dr. Samsu Ambia Ismail, Head of the Emergency and Trauma Department at Teluk Intan Hospital in Perak, faces the daunting task of balancing patient care with personal religious obligations.

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For Dr. Samsu and his colleagues, observing sahur (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (breaking fast) often takes a backseat to attending to the urgent needs of patients. The unpredictable nature of medical emergencies means meal times are frequently interrupted or shortened.

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Dr samsu ambia ismail
Photo via Harian Metro

“It’s normal for us to not follow the timing of fasting and breaking fast due to the nature of our job. And sometimes it can be exhausting,” Dr. Samsu explained to Harian Metro.

‘I couldn’t eat anything due to the stench of blood’

Reflecting on his experiences over 28 years of service, Dr. Samsu recounted instances where his duty eclipsed personal needs. One such event was a gruesome assault case in Klang in 1996, where the overwhelming demands of treating victims left him unable to eat sahur.

“We received a report saying that five injured victims with their throat slits were on their way to the hospital. I couldn’t eat anything after that, as I felt nauseous due to the overwhelming stench of blood,” he said.

Near death experience during Ramadan shootout

General view of the front entrance of hospital kuala lumpur (hkl).
Photo via The Star

In 2000, during a police shootout at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Dr. Samsu found himself caught in the chaos, momentarily forsaking his fast for safety.

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“To save myself, I hid behind the desk, but I was relieved and grateful that the situation was under control after the patient fled. Due to that incident, I ended up breaking my fast late that day,” he said.

Similarly, a landslide tragedy in 2002 saw him sacrificing his sahur to attend to victims buried beneath the rubble.

‘I got called and rushed to the scene’

Dr. Samsu almost missed his pre-dawn meal (sahur) when he had to deal with a landslide that destroyed several homes, including the bungalow of former Chief of the Armed Forces and former Chairman of Affin Bank, General (Retired) Tan Sri Ismail Omar, in Taman Hillview, Hulu Klang, on Nov 20, 2002.

“I got the call and rushed to the scene to handle three deceased victims, and there were still others buried,” he recalled.

“In the chaos, I couldn’t have a proper sahur; I only managed to drink some water to to fulfil the basic requirement to fill my stomach,” added Dr. Samsu, who has been serving for 28 years.

Even with his busy schedule, Dr. Samsu never neglects any patient, especially during Ramadan. He shares his meals with those who are alone, showing compassion even in tough times.

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“When we see patients waiting, especially those without companions, we take our food from the hospital’s kitchen and give it to them.”

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