Dr. Maha Farhina: Making People Live Healthier and Stronger Lives

Top 10 Most Inspiring Women in Business, 2022

Dr. Maha Farhina is “One of the Best” in the healthcare industry. As Head of the Department of Orthopedics and Hand Rehabilitation Department at New You Medical Center, she is committed to implementing the best practices and techniques to enhance the life quality of patients.

She firmly believes that everyone deserves the highest quality of life and thus strives to ensure that everyone can access the best treatments. And the smile on the faces of patients when they see their hands and muscles functioning again, with original strength, is the greatest reward for Dr. Maha Farhina, an Ortho Expert and Hand Specialist.

“The feeling of success results from how much we can do to make people live healthier and stronger lives, and not give up on them or ourselves,” she says.

Never Give Up

For Dr. Maha Farhina, success means “not giving up,” especially when other people’s lives depend on her. And her life experiences have made her realize that success comes when one is on the verge of giving up. She says one needs to have a solid focus and not give up until one discovers what one wants.

“An excellent example of success is Thomas Edison, who tried 9999 times until he perfected the light bulb,” Dr. Maha Farhina points out. “So, do we call 9999 failures defeat? No. They were just steps that he had to take to reach success.”

Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the U.S., once said, “success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” Dr. Maha Farhina “strongly” believes in following the sentiments expressed in this quote.

Challenge Comes with Reward

Challenges do not scare Dr. Maha Farhina. She feels there is no fun in doing things until it is challenging. Life is full of challenges, and each challenge comes with its reward, she says.

Like other inspirational leaders, Dr. Maha Farhina’s life journey, too, has its share of struggles, obstacles, and difficult situations. While fighting a number of different obstacles, she made herself educated, generated inspiration for a change, and dedicated her life to helping others live healthier and full life. Dr. Maha Farhina has overcome all the hurdles with tenacity and determination.

She enrolled for a Doctor of Physical therapy in the first batch of Dow Medical University of Health Sciences in Karachi, Pakistan at a time when awareness about this medical field was very low. There were not many people who were ready to take the risk of joining it. After earning her doctor’s degree, Dr. Maha Farhina went for a Master’s in Neuro-Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation at Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan.

“Rehabilitation has been recognized as a field for many years in Pakistan, but this was the first time skilled doctors were roped in to treat in rehabilitation in Pakistan’s medical sector,” she points out.

As a woman, too, Dr. Maha Farhina encountered many challenges in the professional field. She recalls that sometimes, patients would refuse to accept her treatment because she looked too young or was a woman. At her previous places of employment, few male doctors thought women doctors were less capable than them. “For such a profession, at this time of the century, it was heartbreaking to see how people discriminate against gender and value appearance more than knowledge and skills,” Dr. Maha Farhina says. Instead of losing her confidence or retreating, she decided to handle the challenge of gender bias by becoming the best and most knowledgeable in her field.

“I went ahead and achieved the membership in The American Society of Hand Therapists, and learned from countless books by esteemed authors,” she says. “Even my room turned into a library.” Also, she began attending to and treating patients who didn’t have time to wait. “In the quickest way possible, I could rehabilitate their burn injuries, workplace injuries and even babies born with congenital disabilities like Polydactyly, syndactyly, or more complex condition like symbrachydactyly,” says Dr. Maha Farhina.

Soon, the word spread about her treatments. People across Sindh and Punjab provinces in Pakistan would travel hundreds of miles to get treated by her. “The tables turned,” she says. “There was a time I used to sit and watch how my patients were being referred to the male doctors. Now, I get calls from consultants telling me how only I can treat this case and make the impossible possible.” Dr. Maha Farhina has treated people from all classes – from homeless people to celebrities.

One thing she has learned because of her professional journey is that “no one can stop you from achieving your dream if you keep focus, work hard, and ignore all the road bumps you get along the way.”

When Dr. Maha Farhina was a child, she used to get bullied by other kids. Her father, Syed Afzal Hussain, who passed away when she was very young, always used to quote a verse from South Asian poet Allama Sir. Muhammad Iqbal’s collection to uplift her mood: “Don’t be afraid of the adversary, O’ eagle, it moves to fly you high.”

“My dad was a man who never gave up in his life even when he got seriously ill,” Dr. Maha Farhina says. “I remember him driving to the hospital all by himself; maybe that is what made me keep going, and any obstacle in life looked very small to me.”

New You Medical Center

New You Medical Center is one of Riyadh’s few highly esteemed Medical Centers. It was founded on the belief that good treatment is a right of everyone. It is led by Dr. Al-Obeid, and according to Dr. Maha Farhina, he leads “meticulously with excellence” through the outcome of such an exigent industry. Several expert plastic surgeons and dieticians work at the hospital.

New You Medical Center treats patients who have suffered work accidents, need surgery related to muscle, have nerve or congenital disabilities, and want to improve their personality, look, vision, and dental appearance. It has achieved a competitive edge in the industry through continuous advancement.

The hospital also promotes research and knowledge building. Dr. Maha Farhina says that a major portion of the hospital budget is spent on finding new and better ways of treating patients and on nerve and tissue research. The hospital works with local and international medical universities and research organizations to find alternative solutions, and find ways to reduce the cost of treatment, which helps patients.

“In addition, we publish our research in open forums, which allow doctors in other parts of the world to benefit from what we have achieved and provide better treatment in their countries,” Dr. Maha Farhina adds.

Life before New You Medical Center

Before joining New You Medical Center, Dr. Maha Farhina received the First Female Hand Specialist Doctor award in Pakistan, which is recognized by the Excellence Award Society in the UK.

Previously, she has served Dr. Ruth K. M. Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Pakistan, as a Hand & Ortho Rehabilitation Doctor. She says that she worked with many skilled and knowledgeable surgeons, pre and post-surgery, for the treatment and learned from them how to perform procedures so patients could recover faster.

“I also operated my clinic, providing treatment for people who could not afford to attend big hospitals,” Dr. Maha Farhina says. “My consultation fees were only USD 20/-, which helped me cover the operating expenses. I attended to around 20-30 patients daily.” She still remembers the smiles of her patients, and quotes poet Maya Angelou to express herself better, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Support of Family

“Honestly, it might sound uncanny. I never had friends, Dr. Maha Farhina says. She, however, has the support of her family members who are like friends.

Dr. Maha Farhina considers her mom, who is also a doctor, her idol. She has always wanted to be like her. “Growing up, I looked at how she balanced her professional work and home,” she says. “This encouraged me even more.”

And Dr. Maha Farhina values her sister-in-law Aliya, uncle, aunt, and brother the most in her life. Her uncle, who lives in the Philippines, is far away from her but near her heart. “They pick me up whenever I fall, even when it feels impossible to do it,” she says. “I appreciate my brother Dr. Rehan Danish for supporting me after my father passed away. He was the one who took the elderly place in the family.”

“I don’t remember thinking once in my life if my dad was there to help me; it is because of him [brother] and especially my late father, from whose inspiration where I am standing today,” she adds.

A Regular Day at Work

Dr. Maha Farhina’s day begins with a cup of tea, followed by a daily briefing with the medical staff. “We have patients waiting the moment the hospital opens; most of them are post-surgical patients,” she says. She follows up on the patient’s health records and the treatment plan they were provided. In the afternoon, she conducts training for PGs and future doctors who come from the university.

In the second half, Dr. Maha Farhina works with surgeons and discusses with them planned surgeries and the line of treatment they will be providing. “We try not to become workaholics, but doctors’ lives revolve around having patients cured,” she says.

Medical care is one of the most important and busy professions, so Dr. Maha Farhina sometimes has to drop the balance between personal and professional. “When treating patients, you have to ensure no margin of error,” she points out. “Every patient that comes to you has hope that you are the only one who can fix them.”

Sometimes, Dr. Maha Farhina and her team have to stay late because someone needs psychological or physical rehabilitation. She often tells her staff to remember that there is no outside world when they work—focus 100% on what is in front of them. “Never be afraid to ask questions,” she also says to them. “Always escalate cases to others if you need advice or are in doubt. When someone trusts you for their treatment, it becomes your responsibility to ensure you give the best of yourself and your knowledge.”

The mantra that Dr. Maha Farhina follows in the hospital is: “When you get overloaded, stop, take a deep breath and analyze the situation.” She explains that when someone’s minds are clouded with thought, they lose the ability to look at what’s in -front of us and find the right solution.”

Dr. Maha Farhina is also a researcher with multiple case studies and a thesis published in different journals. The doctors and PGs who work under her supervision have students who come in from various medical universities, and her goal is to prepare them for the future.

To Make the World a Better Place

Dr. Maha Farhina is known for promoting the value of teamwork, knowledge transfer, and discussion. She believes that no one can progress unless they all act and work as a team.

“Our patients depend on us to rehabilitate them psychologically and physically,” Dr. Maha Farhina says, adding that it is their job to convert their hopes into reality and make sure they once again become involved in the society during their post-accidental phase.

Personally, Dr. Maha Farhina wishes to discover and teach techniques to doctors in the field. She also intends to make the world a better place for all and spread the knowledge they have achieved to doctors far and beyond. A kid in Africa or a soldier in the war should be able to receive treatment and recover from the injury, enabling them to live a whole life.

“It isn’t true that you live only once .you only die once; you live lots of time if you know how to,” Dr. Maha Farhina quotes American singer Bobby Darlin.

Message to Aspiring Doctors                                              

The job of doctors isn’t an easy one, It is where one studies “God’s work” and then researches a solution to fix what is damaged, Dr. Maha Farhina says in her message to aspiring doctors, adding, “You are stepping into a world where you must gain as much knowledge as possible.”

She tells aspiring doctors to keep learning, no matter how much experience they have gained. “The day you stop learning, the day you stop being the best,” she says.

“Every doctor sees new cases every day, and not necessarily, one treatment will work the same way for the other,” Dr. Maha Farhina adds. “Learn what caused this injury, always deep study cases before you start working, and your biggest strength is never to be afraid to ask a question.”