Life Lessons from Dr. Saad Saad, Pediatric Surgeon

February 28, 2018 - By 
inspired child - Saad Saad life lessons

Recently, I was given an opportunity to interview Dr. Saad Saad about his prestigious career as a highly successful and innovative pediatric surgeon. Dr. Saad not only had an interesting story to tell but he also left me with the simple life lessons he skillfully passed onto his children. I’ll share those lessons, and his story, with you today.

headshot of Dr. Saad SaadDr. Saad recently retired after a 47 year career in medicine, but he leaves us with a lasting legacy of innovation, sacrifice, and service. When I was given the opportunity to speak with Dr. Saad, I had no idea how fascinating his story would be. My first question was, what motivated him to become a physician and his response surprised me. His answer shows what you can accomplish with your life if you set your mind to it.

Life Lesson #1 from Dr. Saad: Don’t accept anything but the success you seek

Dr. Saad was born in Palestine in the late 1940’s, at a time in world history when that region was undergoing rapid and dramatic changes. The creation of the State of Israel resulted in the forced relocation of many Palestinians, native to the region. At a very young age, while Dr. Saad’s father was traveling for work, his mother was instructed to quickly board a bus with her children to an unknown destination. On this day, she left the key under the welcome mat and left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, thinking she would return soon. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Dr. Saad and his family were being relocated to the West Bank, never to see their home again. His father would only see his family again after many hours of searching and ultimately after paying a boat owner a large amount of money to carry him by boat across a river so he could reunite with his family.

Dr. Saad’s father was a skilled petroleum mechanic at a time when oil in the Middle East was just being discovered and sold to foreign markets. In the 1950’s, with his skills in high demand, he moved his family to Kuwait. This is where Dr. Saad would spend most of his childhood years. While in school in Kuwait, Dr. Saad’s father planted a very important seed in his mind—a life lesson that would stick with him for his entire life. His father reminded him of his tough situation. He was part of a diaspora with no country, no passport, and seemingly no future. His father told him that the only way he would be respected is if he pursued a high level of education. Armed with a high level of knowledge, he knew he could do anything and be anybody in this world.

One day in the 1960’s, while he was in high school, Dr. Saad went with his brother to a construction site there in Kuwait. The summers in Kuwait can become brutally hot and this day was no exception. While at the site, the heat began to really affect him. After some time in the hot sun, he started feeling ill and eventually fainted. Later, after regaining consciousness, he realized that the hot summer day had given him a heat stroke. He reflected on his experience and realized he wasn’t meant to for outdoor labor. In the late 60’s in Kuwait, there was only one location in the entire country that was always air conditioned, the operating room. After discovering that information, Dr. Saad set his mind on becoming a pediatric surgeon.

It’s amazing that one of the most experienced, innovative, and successful pediatric surgeons this country has ever had ultimately decided to pursue his career because of one hot summer day in Kuwait. This should highlight the fact that you can literally do anything and be anybody you want if you set your mind to it and accept nothing but success. He told me, “If a poor Palestinian refugee can make it and be successful in America, you can too!”

From that day, he never wavered from his goal. With his father’s guidance to pursue a career that required years of education combined with his personal goal of working in a comfortable environment, his mind was set. Amazingly, Dr. Saad would not only become the pediatric surgeon he set his mind to become, but he graduated from medical school, with honors, as the salutatorian.

Life Lesson #2: Never wait until tomorrow to accomplish a task you can complete today

During our discussion, I asked Dr. Saad what daily habit makes him most productive. He quickly answered, “you should never wait for tomorrow to do something you can accomplish today.” As a physician, Dr. Saad lived by this rule. This lesson allowed him to achieve a higher level of success because he became very efficient with his time. He knew that a strong work ethic was the key to success, so each day he made sure to make the most of his time.

After immigrating to the United States, Dr. Saad set his mind to become a US Board Certified pediatric surgeon. A very rare accomplishment for any surgeon in the United States, at the time. This drive to enhance his knowledge and advance his education opened a very exciting door for his career. By the mid 1980’s he was the only board-certified pediatric surgeon in the entire United States that was fluent in Arabic and English. This made him a prime candidate for a very unique and prestigious position. he was asked to be the Pediatric Surgeon for the children of the Saudi Royal family as well to perform complex pediatric surgical procedure on any child in Saudi Arabia who needs it, a position he held until 1989.

After his return to the United States, Dr. Saad began thinking of ways to minimize pain and the recovery time for his patients. Over the years, he developed several new procedures to improve his care. One such procedure eliminated a second incision, on the child’s body, that was previously required. This new procedure offered the same result and became so successful that it was skillfully employed more than 2,000 times over his career. Can you imagine the complications that could have come from an extra incision on the fragile body of more than 2,000 young children? Without his drive for the highest level of procedural knowledge, his demand to always improve, and his passion for innovation, we know Dr. Saad was able to improve or save the lives of thousands of young children.

Finally, I asked Dr. Saad what advice he would give to his younger self. True to his life lessons, he told me, “reaching your goals is not impossible if you insist on it.” By listening to the wisdom of his father and being unwavering with his goals, Dr. Saad’s lessons are another excellent reminder of what we hear so often in America when we are young. We hear, “You can be anything you want to be if you set your mind to it.” From what you need to accomplish today to what you want to accomplish with your life, you alone are in control of your fate. Regardless of your background, here in this great country, your mind is your greatest asset. In my conversations with Dr. Saad, I learned from him to set your mind to become the person you want to be and do not delay advancing those goals if there is time left in the day.

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Posted In:  Interviews
  • Very true article. I am a procrastinator do I found wsht he was saying very relevant in my life.
    I have found his advice to be true that if you do today what you can instead of tomorrow by you free much better about yourself.
    Also seeking success in every aspect of my life helps accomplish goals.

  • Honestly I haven’t been living my life like this, and each day I’ve been getting more and more depressed. This article convinced me to make a change, and starting today I’m living by David’s words. I plan to start getting things done and living the life I actually want to live.

    It’s incredible to think it only took one article to switch my lifeview. But here I am. It’s 6am, and I’m ready to take on the world.

  • great inspiring article.this type of man always as an idol of our society.they always inspire us in every step of our life.learn many things from this article that help me and encourage me by many ways.i also want to be a i think the summary of this article is very important to me.thanks for sharing.

  • This is a really inspiring article. If more people read this and then were able to apply the principles to their daily lives they would be much better for it. I know that I am.

  • Great experience! He was speedy to see us and explained things easily enough for me to understand the process.Extremely knowledgable and confident. Dr Saad made my daughter and I feel at ease. Dr Saad has a wonderful personality, and made my teenage daughter feel very comfortable.

  • Pretty good advice from Dr. Saad! We need more people like him to give us inspiration like this! He has helped so many in ways I could not even begin to imagine. I hope the best for him in his journey to become the world’s greatest physician. Let’s use his advice in our own lives as well!

  • Awesome Life Lessons from Dr. Saad. His Life lesson is actually for everyone. We will success in our life if we can follow him. Yeah, reaching your goals is not impossible if we insist on it. Thanks for this awesome article about his life lesson.

  • Christopher Phillips April 6, 2018 at 2:31 am

    I believe that this article written by Dr. Saad is an informative tool that can be used by all ages of the population. One of the most difficult things in medicine is dealing with children. Performing surgery on a child is very stressful due to the age of the child and the fact that the surgeon has to deal with the parents. Good job Dr. Saad! Great article!

  • Dr.saad is a very high motivator. I have read whole blog.I love this blog.I will try to import all these advices in my real life. Thank you so much sir for this high motivational blog.Keep going on like this and send us more important blog like this one.I will highly recommend this blog to every one.

  • Great tips! I will definately take these into account as i move forward with my life. I’m currently in a tough time right now, but i believe that if i follow these life lessons then I can improve my life tons and tons. Thanks for the great article and life lessons.

  • Dr. Saad teaches us not to accept anything but the success we seek. That is good advice. He went through a lot of negative changes, but still became successful.

  • What a truly inspirational life story! This surgeon is a fine example of a worthy motivator.

  • Dr. Saad’s lesson about overcoming adversity is something everyone should take to heart. We can all achieve success just like Dr. Saad by powering through the bad times with a goal in mind and relentlessly pursuing that goal despite all obstacles. I applaud his efforts and hope young people today follow in the path that he trailblazed.

  • This is so inspiring! A real testament that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible! I think our young people could greatly benefit from this doctor’s story!

  • Jenifer LapinskiJenifer Lapinski April 14, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    This is very informative and well described. It’s easy to understand all the points being made about Dr. Saad. These life lessons really made me think about my own life. I loved how much detail was used in this article. I will definitely come back to read more from this site. I enjoyed it a lot and will share what I learned with all my friends.

  • Excellent article!

  • Wow,amazing interview ever!Dr.Saad is one of my idol.His life story inspired me a lot.I have learned a lot from his interview.Just love his life lesson”NEVER WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW TO ACCOMPLISH A TASK YOU CAN COMPLETE TODAY”.It is a helpful lesson i must say.If anyone want to be a successful,he/she will must follow Dr.Saad life lesson,cause it will help him/her that i believe.thanks for sharing

  • Wow – what an inspiration Dr. Saad is! I love his quote about insisting on reaching your goals….how true is that if you really think about it. Determination and motivation will get you far in life, just as they did for Dr. Saad. I also strongly agree with his philosophy of not waiting until tomorrow to finish what you can today. That is so true…as the saying goes, “tomorrow never comes”. Great life lessons!

  • This is a very uplifting and insightful article. It’s so true that you have to expect the best from yourself and life and keep striving towards your goals. If you accept less that that which you have worked toward it’s just not enough. I also like the part about not procrastinating. It is so easy to put things off and then they just never happen.

  • This is a really inspiring article. Dr.Saad is one of my idol . It’s easy to understand all the points being made about Dr. Saad. Awesome Life Lessons from Dr. Saad. and I think this article can be used by all ages of the population .”NEVER WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW TO ACCOMPLISH A TASK YOU CAN COMPLETE TODAY”. this is also one of the great helpful lesson mentioned above in the article anyone want to be success in their life I think they should follow the Dr. Saad

  • Dr. Saad’s story truly represents what it means to achieve the American dream. I can’t even imagine what it was like to live through the type of turmoil he experienced in his childhood, and yet not only did it not deter him, but instead it motivated him to become of the most celebrated and innovative pediatric surgeons. We can all take a lesson from his example in whichever field we are or hope to be in.

  • Dr. Sasd,s story can relate to a lot of people. To what it means to achieve the goals that you set for yourself in life and not anyone else goals that some else have made for you. So when he talks about don’t accept anything but what you seek. Is so true many us take the first thing that is handed to us and it makes not be your true calling in life and is just another paycheck. I thought this was a great article.

  • This is a really inspiring article. It is a helpful lesson I must say… I’m currently in a tough time right now, I believe that if we follow these life lessons then we can improve our lives. We need more people like him to give us inspiration like this . I plan to start getting things done and living the life I actually want to live. thank you for this amazing article

  • Dr. Saad sound like a wonderful and inspirational man. His story of working hard to meet his life goals inspires me to work harder towards mine. The article was very insightful and wonderfully written I wish that I had the skills to write as well as you. The lesson about not waiting till tomorrow for something that you can do today is a lesson that I need to apply to my own life as I currently struggle with procrastination. Whatever path we choose to take in life there are lessons that can be learned from Dr. Saad’s story.

  • Wow very inspiring. The very last Paragraph is what really caught my eye. Listening to wisdom is so important and I think people take wisdom for granted. No goal can ever be achieved until you are guided by the hand of wisdom. It is true, no matter what background you come from, you can aspire to do wonders. Taking advantage of the opportunity that is at hand is also important because most of the time if you don’t you will never see them again. People like DR. Saad makes me push a little harder even if it seem like my goals are to far to reach I no that I can achieve them.

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