What you need to know:
- Dr. Maria Othieno, the Kenyan doctor based in Romania who is improving people's appearances
- Some of the procedures that she conducts include rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and Botox
When Michael Crichton, American novelist and physician created the 1994 medical drama television series called ER, chances are that it never crossed his mind that he would inspire a seven-year-old Kenyan girl to dream of pursuing a career in medicine.
Dr. Maria Othieno, who was fascinated by the men and women donned in white lab coats and scrubs acting like ‘superman’ on the television, wanted to fit in their shoe one day.
“After watching that show, I decided that my duty in this world is to save lives and to do great things especially in the medical sector,” Dr Maria says.
ER is an abbreviation for emergency room in hospitals. In the series, as is in the real world, an ER is a place where patients are in dire straits and could either live or die. God’s saving grace working through the doctors dominates such rooms.
Dr. Maria fell in love with the adrenaline of an ER and while she was glued to the series barely understanding the going-ons, the motion pictures were enough motivation. She did not know that her fate was being sealed on a couch, while watching the drama.
“How you send things in the universe sometimes can actually be a dice tossed in your favour, I ended up realising that dream,” she says.
Dr. Maria now pockets a specialty in otorhinolaryngology, a branch in medicine that deals with the ear, nose and throat.
She tells me that sciences, to her, were like breastfeeding to a baby; so likeable and hard to resist. Having attended high school at the State House Girls, one of the country’s best schools, she was lucky to get the best shot at life.
“At State House Girls, I got the foundation and background to want to be better. We were taught to be ambitious young women and while there, I learnt responsibility because I was also a leader, a schedule prefect all the way from form one through to form four,” she narrates.
11 years after she thought of what she wanted to be, her dream came alive when she left the country at the age of 18 to pursue a career in medicine after securing a scholarship to Romania.
Everything felt new and different.
“Initially, I didn’t even know where Romania was on the map. The only thing I knew about Romania was the Count Dracula castle and Gheorghe Hagi, a Romanian footballer,” she says.
A light but insightful banter with her cousin prompted her to go all out and study in Romania.
“While it was a light moment, I took my cousin’s sentiments seriously and walked to the embassy, not with the intention of securing a scholarship, but to get information about studying medicine in Romania,” she narrates.
“When I presented my documents, the ambassador, whom I met there was impressed with my eloquence, confidence and persona and just like that, I got a scholarship to study medicine in Romania,” she adds.
It was going to be her first time on a plane. A first time living all by herself. Also, a first time learning the Romanian language and interacting with Romanian people.
Studying medicine is one thing, but studying medicine in a new language was a whole new and challenging thing for her.
She however did not let the obstacles come in her way.
“It was difficult,” she says.
“But you know, Kenyans are tough, industrious people and they never give up. I think that the zealousness in me made me understand that failure was not an option and I had to learn that I had left my country and family behind so I had to work so hard,” she recounts.
For six years, she studied medicine at the Carol Davila school of Medicine in Bucharest, Romania. She finished medical school in six years and later did her post-graduate in ENT surgery (otorhinolaryngology) training at a phono-audiology and functional ENT institute in Romania called Professor Dr Dorion Hociota.
With her expertise, she was employed in a cosmetic surgery clinic and there, her passion in making people look confident in their own skin grew.
“What we do is cosmetic surgery from the face all the way to other parts of the body. I am now a facial aesthetic surgeon and that means that I can do all procedures from surgical to non-surgical procedures,” she explains.
Some of the procedures that she conducts include rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and Botox.
“Rhinoplasty commonly referred to as nose job is the surgery of the nose to change the shape or improve its function. Blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure which improves the appearance of the eyelids which is mostly used by old people to make them appear younger,” she explains.
She also conducts non-invasive procedures which means you don’t need to be in an operation room. One example is Botox, a cosmetic prescription medicine that is injected into muscles and used to improve the looks of wrinkles. Other procedures are; fillers, vampire treatment and mesotherapy.
“In vampire treatment for instance, we take blood from your vein and then take it to a system that separates the blood from your plasma to your platelets then to the red blood cells. We then take your plasma and inject it on your face and arms which helps in rejuvenation and keeping you young,” she explains.
Dr Maria underwent rhinoplasty procedure as well out of curiosity and she feels better with her ‘new’ nose.
“When I went through the procedure, at first, my nose felt as though someone had hit me with a fist. It took me a year to get used to it but I like it this way,” she says.
“We never change you to be a completely new person. We just try to improve people’s appearance and never to distort your face. When someone looks at you, your first mirror or canvas is your face and you have to look good,” she says
“It is important that people understand that while other people may view it as a luxury, it actually is a confidence booster,” she adds.
Dr Maria says that being a doctor for her is the will of God and she does not think changing one’s appearance is going against His will.
“In as much as we made in God’s image, by His own image but it doesn’t make you less of a person to change something that will make you happy. Never can I take God’s place,” she says.