In memoriam: Dr. Mahtab Uddin Shaikh

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Dr. Mahtab Uddin Shaikh, who taught human anatomy and physiology for 30 years at Onondaga Community College, died earlier this month surrounded by family. Many TEDsters got to know his story through his daughter Alanna Shaikh’s moving talk, “How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s” — which shared his wonderful life and unquenchable heart in the face of illness. As Alanna said in the talk, given at TEDGlobal 2012 in late June, “My father was kind and loving before he had Alzheimer’s, and he’s kind and loving now. When you take away everything he ever learned in this world, his naked heart still shines. What I need now is to learn to be like that. I need a heart so pure that if it’s ever stripped bare with dementia, it will survive.”

In 2009, Alanna Shaikh wrote a beautiful essay about her father for the website On Being. In it she wrote, “The work he loved, and the impact he had on his students — it was more than most people do in their lives. His contribution to our world does not fall short, even if he ran out of time.”