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Compassionate doctor wipes out his patients’ $650,000 debt


Valeri Potapova | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 01/09/21

Dr Omar Atiq's act of generosity will ease the financial burden of up to 200 families.

The pandemic has left a lot of families in financial difficulty. Not only have many found it difficult to pay bills,  they’ve also had to contend with huge unpaid debts. Thankfully, one very kind-hearted doctor from Arkansas decided to forgive the $650,000 debt that his patients still had to pay.

Oncologist, Dr Omar Atiq, closed his clinic in Pine Bluff after 30 years of offering patients chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and CAT scans. While putting his affairs in order, with the help of a debt collection agency, he realized that his patients were really struggling to pay off their debts due to the pandemic. As he explained to ABC’s Good Morning America, he soon appreciated that people just didn’t have the capacity to pay their bills.

“So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.”

The reasoning behind the decision comes from his compassion for those he’s seen suffer throughout his years as a doctor:

“Since I started practicing, I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with sick patients not only having to worry about their own health and quality of life and their longevity and their families and their jobs but also money. That’s always tugged at me. You add to it the absolute devastation that the pandemic has wrought, and you think thank God that we’re fairly comfortable and this was something we could at least do to help the community.”

Atiq’s wife, Mehreen, shares his caring nature and supported her husband in his decision.

So, at the most perfect time of year to receive such news, he sent the following letter at Christmas to around 200 of his old patients: “I hope this note finds you well. The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”

The father of four children (who are also doctors or becoming doctors) seems to have always put his patients first: “We have never refused to see a patient. Not for lack of health insurance or funds nor for any other reason. I’ve always considered it a high honor and privilege to be someone’s physician — more important than anything else,” he shared with Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

While he may have closed the doors to his practice, he is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. Hopefully his students will follow in their professor’s footsteps and be as equally compassionate in helping others in their hour of need.

Being in the medical profession is just one career perfectly suited to Catholics. To discover other jobs that complement your faith, take a look at the slideshow below.


Read more:
10 Jobs that are perfect for Catholics

FinanceInspiring storiesMedicine
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