Wales honours: Libyan Mahdi Jibani MBE for medical and interfaith work
- 29 December 2012
- From the section North West Wales
A doctor warned not to return to his native Libya while Col Gaddafi was in power has been honoured for 29 years of medical work in north Wales and promotion of interfaith understanding.
Mahdi Jibani, based in Anglesey, is given an MBE in the New Year Honours.
He was a newly-qualified doctor in the UK for training when his ex-diplomat father rang to tell him not to return.
The medic, now 60, said his family were worried he would be arrested for his opposition to the Gaddafi regime.
He said: "Like a lot of Libyans, I stayed away because of Gaddafi."
Then in his late 20s, Dr Jibani had qualified as a doctor a year before moving to the UK for training in intensive care medicine.
He said: "When I was in Libya, I was involved in political demonstrations. I was briefly put under arrest at one point and was injured in one of the demonstrations.
"My dad, who was a diplomat in the former regime of King Idris [overthrown by Gaddafi in 1969], was worried I was at risk."
While working in Lancashire, the young doctor met a local woman, Carol. The couple married and moved to Wales. They have two adults sons, the youngest of whom has followed his father into medicine.
Dr Jibani's interest in kidney disease emerged from his intensive care training.
For patients living in rural north Wales he has led the establishment of a satellite renal unit and has been the driving force in promoting an extensive home dialysis programme.
This has improved both the quality of life and the sense of normality of dialysis patients.
He said: "Kidney disease is an underestimated condition. It is far more common than people realise.
"It is a specialty where you can cure patients from acute illness or if you cannot curtail it, you can provide them with a better quality of life. It also covers practically every spectrum of illness."
Trust and treatment
Dr Jibani's citation for a new year honour says: "He has a level of compassion that has led many of his patients to regard him as a friend as well as a doctor."
He said: "I believe that trust is the basis of medicine. If we have trust we can go to the next stage. The way for trust is there isn't any business of me talking down to patients.
"That's how I practise. I don't think of this as something exceptional. It was how I was brought up. Maybe it's not normal everywhere."
Dr Jibani believes his mother's problems with her sight prompted him to want to be a doctor.
He said: "My mother had chronic illness with her eyes. It's something I was intrigued about and made me want to learn. That's what made me think of medicine."
He is stunned to be named on the 2013 honours list.
"I'm humbled by the fact my colleagues and people who work around me must have put in a submission to recognise the work we do in Bangor," he said.
Dr Jibani's citation says he has raised money for the Welsh Kidney Patients Association by leading the annual ramble through Snowdonia.
He has also contributed to interfaith understanding as vice-chair of the North West Wales Inter Faith Network and is a member of North Wales Muslim Council.
Others honoured in north west Wales include Gerald Williams, 83, who receives an MBE for an "exceptional contribution" to the heritage of his uncle, the Welsh-language poet Hedd Wyn.
Hedd Wyn [Ellis Humphrey Evans] died at the Battle of Passchendaele six weeks before the National Eisteddfod in 1917, at which he was awarded the Black Chair for his poem Yr Arwr (The Hero).
Mr Williams, of Trawsfynedd, Gwynedd, has single-handedly farmed the property, Ys Ysgwrn, since 1954, while also welcoming visitors from around the world.
His citation reads: "He has given each one a spellbinding, knowledgeable and personal insight into the life of his uncle and visitors leave having experienced something profound and unique.
"Recognising its importance, in 2012 the property and its collections were transferred to the ownership of Snowdonia National Park, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, on behalf of the nation."
Dr Peter Higson, of Llanrwst, Conwy, the former chief executive of Wales' health care inspectorate, receives an OBE, as does Dr Keith Griffiths from Caernarfon, former director of therapies and health sciences at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
Elaine Owen, a clinical specialist physiotherapist at the Child Development Centre in Bangor, is given an MBE for her service to children with disabilities.
There is also a knighthood for Team GB cycling guru Dave Brailsford, who grew up in Deiniolen, Gwynedd.