Prof Saleem Haj-Yahia


Born in Israel, Saleem Haj-Yahia studied law at Tel Aviv University before switching to medical school at the Technion in Haifa. At Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, where Saleem did his residency in cardiac and thoracic surgery, the institution’s director at the time, Professor Zeev Rotstein (now Director General of Hadassah Hospital), referred to him as the ‘Arab prince’.

He joined London’s Imperial College after an invitation from Egyptian-born Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub, one of the world’s leading heart and heart-transplant surgeons. That was the springboard into an international career, in the course of which he’s performed heart operations and transplants – using both human and artificial organs – from Riyadh to Johannesburg.

He is a founder and until recently, CEO of An-Najah National University Hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus, the first university hospital in the Palestinian Territories. He is also founder and chairman of the National Heart, Lung, Vascular and Transplant Institute and Dean Emeritus of the largest faculty of medicine and health sciences in the Middle East with 5000 students.

Saleem has been given a special ‘Honorary Chair’ position at the University of Bristol, England, and serves there as professor of cardiothoracic surgery. He is also a Professor at the University of Glasgow (Visiting Chair), Scotland. He is currently the only heart transplant surgeon in the United Kingdom to hold high profile professorial appointments at two leading British Universities at the same time.