Toronto med scholar survives vicious stabbing whereas at Caribbean college

The tears leave traces of dark makeup down her cheeks as she sits on a couch by the window of an apartment in downtown Toronto, shuddering.

She laments because of the horror her family has faced in recent months, because of the loss of innocence and security in this world.

She wails for her daughter, who dreamed of becoming a doctor. Her daughter, who was stabbed 16 times a month after starting medical school in the Caribbean.

This daughter is comforting her now. This daughter, Samar Haroun, survived. But something in her mother didn’t.

“He planted a terrible horror, a psychological fear,” says Rabab Idris of her daughter’s attacker. “Nothing will make up for me. My child’s life, their time, our terrible situation, our fear.

“I sleep on sleeping pills and scream in the middle of the night.”

As a child, Haroun dreamed of becoming a doctor.

She came to Canada from Oman when she was 15. The next year she studied science at the university.

The health research she did during her Masters degree resulted in publications and patents. But she wanted to work with people, take care of patients. She wanted to be a doctor.

Her undergraduate grades were a little low for Canadian medical schools. But it has been accepted by several in the Caribbean that attract students from Canada and the United States who were not admitted to medical schools at home.

Haroun, 27, chose the Medical University of the Americas, a private, not-for-profit school in St. Kitts and Nevis, a two-island country about 400 kilometers east of Puerto Rico.

It took her a year to get a loan to cover the roughly $ 150,000 the four-year program would cost. Classes started on September 3rd.

Less than a month later, a friend drove Haroun home shortly after midnight. It wasn’t far, but they didn’t go alone at night on Nevis, the smaller of the islands with around 12,000 inhabitants.

It was about 12:30 p.m. on October 1st when she returned to her seat, a one-bedroom, ground floor apartment in a building with three other units, all occupied by medical students and men. She felt safe there.

She stepped over the welcome mat and locked the door behind her. She walked past the bright red couch with the desk, the breakfast bar and the wooden cupboards into the bedroom. She went to the closet.

A man with a knife toppled her.

“He was shirtless; He had a tie around his hair, ”she recalls.

She struggled as he kept stabbing her.

The curtain rod crashed down. She hit him with it. She bit her thumb. She picked up the knife blade to keep it away from her chest.

She looked him in the eye and said, “Please stop, think about my mother, think about my family.”

He didn’t stop.

Her neighbors heard her scream. They knocked on the door and tried to get in. The attacker jumped out the window. Haroun managed to unlock the door before it collapsed.

There was no doctor in the hospital when she arrived and blood spurted from her back. A wound on her cheek had been cut and her tongue was cut open. The bone in her chin showed.

It took maybe 30, 45 minutes to have an operation. X-rays were taken, but no CT scans, no MRIs – neither available in the country. Haroun came out of sedation in a dirty recovery room with about eight others, had no air conditioning (average September temperatures in St. Kitts are between 26 ° C and 31 ° C) and medication came from a syringe labeled “antibiotics”.

Haroun asked the university to call their friend in Toronto, Andrew Tyrell. Nobody did. A friend on Nevis looked him up on Facebook.

“That was my disappointment in school,” says Haroun.

Tyrell got the message and called Haroun’s older brother Hussam at home in Toronto.

He told her mother.

Rabab Idris fell ill. She cried. She passed out. She whined.

“This is the most terrible situation that can ever happen to a family,” says Idris. “Send your child to medical school for a career and save lives and you would never dream that this child could have been killed himself.”



Hussam and Tyrell left for Nevis and arrived on October 2, the day after the attack.

The doctor said the wounds were superficial and not life threatening, says Tyrell.

“We only realized how wrong he was when we returned to Canada.”

Samar had university-required medical evacuation insurance and health insurance.

But it didn’t go smoothly. On October 4th she was to be taken to the airport on the larger island of St. Kitts. Instead, she was brought onto the ferry with her bandages in the heat as a walk-in passenger. The taxi that was supposed to pick her up on the other side was late.

The insurance company flew her on a commercial flight in economy class, although the doctor recommended business class for the extra space. It was about a 10 hour drive with a transfer in Miami.

On the day of their departure, the police arrested 19-year-old Shane Shorter with the plane ticket to Jamaica at the same airport.

Shorter is charged with attempted murder, burglary and theft. He remains in jail waiting for the trial. His mother was accused of being an accessory a few days later.

From Pearson Airport, Haroun went straight to St. Michael Hospital.

She had an injured carotid artery and a dissected vertebral artery – a tear on a large blood vessel in the neck that supplies blood to the brain.

The doctors were concerned about the clotting and gave her aspirin. Ten days later she had a stroke.

It didn’t do any permanent damage, but she needs to take a stronger blood thinner now. She might be able to stop it sometime – in three months, maybe six. Or she can’t. She attends appointments with a number of specialists almost every day.

“The most worrying thing for me right now is that I’m not in school because I worked so hard for it,” says Haroun. She doesn’t know if she will go to medical school in Canada.

Haroun says she is disappointed – with poor medical care, insurance and evacuation exams, and the lack of warning to others following her attack. (The university had not responded to the star’s request for a comment on the reporting date.)

The Canadian government recommends travelers to St. Kitts and Nevis “use a high level of caution,” in part due to limited medical resources and moderate crime rates.

The US State Department notes that illegal islands have flowed into the islands.

“Violent crimes – including murder, street crime, car break-ins and break-ins – continue to occur,” the website said.

Haroun believes students need to ask more questions before heading to Caribbean medical schools.

“We all just feel so happy to finally get into medical school, nobody asks questions,” says Haroun. “I didn’t ask any of these questions. In a million years, I would not have thought that I would have to think about all these things. “