A Pakistani Man Traveled To Birmingham, Alabama To Have Surgery. He Invited The Entire City To His Wedding
May 23, 2022
A Pakistani man traveled all the way to Birmingham, Alabama to have a surgery unavailable in his home country. In gratitude for his experience there, he invited the entire city to his wedding.
Shahzeb Anwer, 31, had been diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, a disease that had been causing him to get kidney stones once or twice a year since he was 18. He began having digestive problems. He developed skin issues. But the treatment for his medical issue was a surgery that was impossible in Pakistan due to limited technology.
Anwer looked into traveling to Turkey, Singapore, the UK, and India for treatment, but pandemic-related travel restrictions had made things difficult. Anwer was also worried about costs.
Eventually, Anwer found out that having the procedure done at UAB hospital would cost him about half of what had been quoted to him by other medical facilities. So he started learning more about Alabama, a state he'd never even heard of before.
He began posting on Facebook and Reddit, asking for people to help him better understand the culture he was about to be immersed in for a short period of time.
The response he received was overwhelming, he said.
"People responded in a way that I wouldn't even expect from my own people in Pakistan," he told CBS 42.
Andrew Harris was one of the people who reached out to Anwer. He said he wanted to help dispel any negative stereotypes Anwer may have had about Alabama and the South. When Anwer made his way to Birmingham, Harris helped him with transportation.
"He would always try to pay me," Harris said. "But I didn't want his money. I've gained such a friend – a best friend for life."
During his time in Birmingham – his first time out of Pakistan at all – Anwer came to love the city. He visited local Indian and Thai restaurants, as well as getting in as many trips to McDonald's, KFC, and Five Guys as he could. He walked through Highland Park and the trails of Mountain Brook. He said Birmingham became his home away from home – a place he'll never forget.
And Anwer's surgery was successful, resolving the medical problems that had plagued him for years.
He headed back to Pakistan, but he wasn't done with Birmingham. When he found out he'd soon be getting married, he posted an invitation in the Reddit group that had helped him find his footing in the United States.
Everybody in Birmingham was invited to the wedding, he said.
"Birmingham treated me as their favored son," he said. "Birmingham literally gave me the attention that people give out to celebrities… So that's why I did it. I believe someone should be coming, because Birmingham has now become a part of my life."
Anwer's wedding was held on Sunday, May 22, in Pakistan.
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