Black Med Student Revolutionizes Medical Illustrations

by Erika DuBose
Chidiebere Ibe medical illustration of a Black fetus.
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Chidiebere Ibe, a Nigerian medical illustrator, noticed something unusual in medical textbooks: all the diagrams were illustrations of White patients. He took it upon himself to change the narrative, illustrating medical textbooks showing Black patients’ bodies. 

In late November, an illustration of a Black fetus drawn by Ibe went viral on Instagram. His artistic piece even received a “Thank You” from world-renowned filmmaker Ava DuVernay. 

For many people, it is the first time they have seen a medical illustration of a Black woman pregnant with a Black fetus.

He’s been surprised at the reaction to his drawings.  Ibe says, “The purpose was to keep talking about what I’m passionate about—equity in healthcare—and also to show the beauty of Black people.” 

The gifted illustrator stressed that the lack of diversity in medical textbooks has important implications for medical trainees.

Ibe ambitiously crowd-sourced money for medical school through his position as a medical illustrator for the Journal of Global Neurosurgery. He is now a first-year medical student in Ukraine. Ibe has plans to become a neurosurgeon. 

Racial disparities in healthcare persist, with Black maternal mortality rates over twice that of White women. His work underscores how the healthcare industry has historically focused on White patient care.  

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