As a child in Nigeria, Dr. Bennet Omalu dreamed of being a pilot, but his father had other plans for him, insisting his son pursue a career as a doctor. Dr. Omalu's path hasn't always been easy—he's dealt at times with clinical depression—but his faith has carried him through.
Dr. Omalu, who now lives and works in the United States, is an established expert on the relationship between sports-related head trauma and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a concussion syndrome that produces cognitive decline and other symptoms. He is also the author of the memoir Truth Doesn't Have a Side, and has even seen his story told in a film starring Will Smith—quite a series of accomplishments for a man who once doubted that God had a plan for him.
Read Dr. Omalu's story from the September 2017 issue of Guideposts.
Dr. Omalu came to the U.S. in 1993 as a part of a visiting scholars program overseen by the World Health Organization. After that one-year fellowship, he was offered a residency at Harlem Hospital Center in NYC. It was there that his interest in a career as a medical examiner was sparked.
In 2002, Dr. Omala joined the staff of the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his examination of Mike Webster, a former professional football player who passed away at age 50, led to him making the connection between football's violent collisions and CTE.
Dr. Omalu testified about CTE before Congress and eventually the story of his campaign to increase awareness about the dangers of CTE was depicted in the movie Concussion, in which Will Smith portrayed Dr. Omalu.
Dr. Omalu is very open about his struggles with depression and about the role his faith has played in helping him cope with the disease. "The light that led me from depression," he wrote, "was the light of God, who has guided me in the darkest of times and the best."
Omalu is currently chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, California, and is a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
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