From 16-year-old mother to “People’s Doctor”

BY Nkosazana Ngwadla

At the age of 16, Dr Taz Emeran-Thomas fell pregnant and gave birth prematurely, instead of giving up on her dreams, she worked very hard to obtain her medical degree.

“I was born and raised in a disadvantaged community in Cape Town, where dreams normally fall on the way side. Before I fell pregnant I had fallen in with a bad crowd and given up on my dreams.”

“My son was born prematurely and spent two months in the neonatal intensive-care unit. It made me realise I had to take care of him. From that very moment I decided to turn my life around,” said Dr Taz.

“I immediately left for Joburg to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor, despite the disapproval in my community about being a young mother leaving my son behind. I am forever grateful to my mother and step-dad for supporting me through it all,” she added.

Dr Taz applied for bursaries, scholarships and private sponsors, without success. She worked part-time jobs so she could pay her medical school fees at Wits University.

In 2020, few weeks before her graduation, she received an email from the University notifying her that she would not graduate until she had paid off all her outstanding debt, which amounted to R471 000.

Heartbroken, Dr Taz shared the devastating news with her Instagram followers in a five-minute video where she explained that she was in desperate need of assistance. The video went viral and garnered so much support, that she managed to fundraise the full amount and so much more in just 24hours.

“I am in complete awe and still speechless by the love and kindness shown to me by South Africa. I felt alone while struggling during the first years of my degree and now I feel like South Africa is my family,” she said.

Dr Taz Emeran-Thomas is a Medical Doctor at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and hopes to specialise in Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Image: Instagram

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