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Ashraf healing Madera hearts for 37 years

Mohammad Ashraf, M.D. came to Madera through his friendship with the late Dr. Robert Rowe’s son, Dennis. They were in school together, serving their fellowships at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston.

“Dennis said the hospital in his hometown needed a cardiologist,” said Ashraf.

Ashraf, a board certified cardiologist, visited Madera and Madera Community Hospital agreed to support him for six months if he moved here. He opened his first office on D Street on Oct. 6, 1980. Since 1992, his premises are in front of MCH. It is his fourth office in Madera. He relocated to a complex on Madera Avenue, then to an office on Almond Avenue.

“I kept moving closer to the hospital,” he said.

He likes that his office is just a short walk from MCH. He appreciates that he doesn’t have to spend a large part of his day commuting.

“We are spoiled in Madera,” he said. “In big cities, many people spend two hours a day just driving back and forth to work.”

Ashraf, along with Steve Copland of Seabury, Copland and Anderson, Dale Evans of Evans Feed and Livestock Supply, Kay Rhoads of Peck’s Printing and memorial recipient Sal Perlongo of Perlongo’s Bakery, will be honored Thursday at the Madera District Fairgrounds during the Lifetime Achievement Awards and Installation dinner. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are $50 per person. For reservations, contact the Madera Chamber of Commerce at 673-3563.

Born in 1950 to affluent farmers in Pakistan, Ashraf knew from a young age he did not want to be a farmer.

“I ran away from farming,” Ashraf said. “But Madera reminds me of where I grew up.”

He graduated from Nishtar Medical in 1971 followed by four years in the Army Medical Corps in Pakistan.

At the age of 24, he immigrated to the United States in 1975. He served his residency at Straight Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine from 1975-1977. He served as chief resident there 1977-1978.

His office staff includes Wanda DeSalle, who has worked for him since he opened his practice. The rest of his staff are Belen Saucedo, Lisa Castenada, Brenda Alvarez and Maria Rodriguez. Two of his nurses have been with him for 15 years.

Ashraf and his wife, Saadia, have three adult daughters — Madeeha Ashraf and husband J. Omar Mahmud, and twins Afifah Ashraf and husband Steve Pyun and Rabeeza Ashraf, who works in his office.

He is the president of Valley Crescent School, a private K-8 school in Clovis founded in 2001. They have an enrollment of 110 students and 17 staff members. Every summer, for 28 years, he hosts a family summer camp for 200 people at Camp Green Meadows in Fish Camp.

Twice a year, Ashraf organizes a health fair in Fresno. He brings together 150 volunteers, 25 physicians, 50 nurses and they provide medical, dental and vision care for 1,000 people at no charge.

He enjoys travelling and reading non-fiction books.

“I read at least a half-hour every day,” Ashraf said.

He is frustrated that medicine can’t cure everything. His beloved wife lost her vision 20 years ago and there is nothing that can be done to restore her sight.

“Without her, I would be nothing,” Ashraf said. “I was a very arrogant person of privilege. I never did anything for anyone in my life. Money can’t buy everything.”

He provides the same care to the poor as he does for the affluent.

“I had a very wealthy patient that said he would give me $4 million if he could live another month,” Ashraf said. “I told the man that he would die that night and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.”

The gentleman died that evening.

He is very humbled to be honored by the chamber with this award. While he doesn’t feel he deserves the award, the fact that he works 60 hours a week says otherwise.

He really likes living in Madera because in a small town he can make a real difference, something he wouldn’t be able to do if he lived in a big city, said Ashraf.

“I have a willing heart to help,” he said.

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