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New award honours late scientist who fought cancer to see his daughter born

Click to play video: 'New award in memory of Montreal scientist and cancer patient'
New award in memory of Montreal scientist and cancer patient
WATCH: A young scientist named Sooran Noroozi battled an aggressive cancer as his pregnant wife looked on so he could live to see their baby daughter take her first breaths. It was an unprecedented case at the MUHC. As Global's Dan Spector reports, a new award has been launched in his honour. – May 6, 2024

It’s a story of hope, resilience and fighting in the name of love.

A young scientist battled an aggressive cancer as his pregnant wife looked on so he could live to see their baby daughter take her first breaths on his deathbed.

Now a new award has been launched in Sooran Noroozi’s honour.

“There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think of him and how a great father he would have been had he got the chance,” said Samaneh Poursaman, the late Noroozi’s wife.

In the summer of 2023, Noroozi was in the throes of a battle with sarcoma, a rare cancer.

The engineer and researcher was given weeks to live, but Poursaman was months away from giving birth to their first child. He kept fighting.

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“Sooran himself was a living definition of love,” Poursaman said.

The staff at the hospital were in awe at the way he defied the odds.

Him pushing hard to stay alive and pushing the limits of science for him to see his daughter come to life was quite remarkable,” said Dr. Ramy Saleh, Noroozi’s oncologist. “We’ve never had in this hospital a patient who’s getting chemotherapy while his wife is delivering a baby.”

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Noroozi was wheeled from his room to the birthing centre to be there when Nika was born. He cut the umbilical cord, and then something happened that never has before.

Thanks to above-and-beyond kindness from hospital staff, the family was able to live together in Noroozi’s room in the oncology ward for two months.

“It was very remarkable. Despite everything he was always greeting us with smiles,” Saleh said.

Noroozi died when Nika was just three months old. He was 42.

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A year later, flanked by his doctor and the MUHC Foundation, Poursaman has launched the first annual Sooran Noroozi Sarcoma Research Award. It’s a $10,000 scholarship given to a sarcoma researcher.

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“The Sooran Noroozi Sarcoma Research Award stands as a beautiful legacy for their daughter, little Nika, ensuring that her father’s spirit and impact live on through this incredibly important and meaningful initiative,” MUHC Foundation president and CEO Marie-Hélène Laramée said.

Poursaman raised the $10,000 herself, and has pledged to raise it in conjunction with the foundation every year.

Dr. Joseph Petrucelli is the first recipient. He hopes to use artificial intelligence and a web app to improve sarcoma patient outcomes.

“I’m so incredibly blessed and honoured, for this award, but also to be a part of this battle, fighting against this type of cancer. It takes an entire community.”

For Poursaman, it’s a step on the path to healing, and a way to honour the love of her life.

She hopes the research prevents children like Nika from losing a parent.

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