Aspiring neurosurgeon and medical illustrator, Chidiebere Ibe broke the internet with his illustration of a Black foetus, an image that the Black community didn’t even know it needed.

Chidiebere’s drawing of a Black foetus is just one in his growing collection of medical illustrations that centre Black people as the default.

Ibe started his drawings when he noticed that most of the patients portrayed in medical diagrams were mostly white people. He started drawing and sharing his medical illustrations via his social media. Among his illustrations are depictions of skin conditions represented in Black skin, lung conditions and the now-famous Black foetus.

His illustrations have struck a chord with hordes of people and several news outlets. When asked about his viral image in an interview with HuffPost, Ibe stated his surprise at the image going viral. His actions were about standing up for his beliefs through a path of advocacy; his medical illustrations are his own way of levelling the field when it comes to the inclusion of the Black community in the medical world and medical literature to be more precise.

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As he commented to Huffpost: “I never expected it to be viral. The whole purpose was to keep talking about what I’m passionate about – equity in healthcare – and also to show the beauty of Black people.”

The implications of no diversity in medical illustrations can be severe. Ibe points to difficulties for medical trainees as for example, skin conditions can vary based on people’s skin colour.

Going further, Ibe points out the importance of representation, saying that Black people are more engaged when it comes to illustrations that portray their own skin colour.

Ibe, who spent 2020 fundraising for his medical school tuition, is currently a first-year medical student at Kyiv Medical School in Ukraine. The resourceful young man is also creative director of a number of medical journals like the Journal of Global Neurosurgery.

 

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A clear case of being the change you want to see, the aspiring neurosurgeon is clear about his passion for better representation, saying on his YouTube channel: “I have decided to change the status quo by portraying anatomy, physiology and pathology on the Black skin.”

“I’m passionate about – equity in healthcare – and also to show the beauty of Black people.”
Image credit: Chidiebere Ibe

The medical world is indebted to this young man. We hope that his illustrations have opened the door to conversations and tangible changes to benefit the lives of so many underrepresented people.


Follow Chidiebere Ibe on Twitter: @ebereillustrate

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