As a gastroenterologist, Dr Yogesh Shastri treats a lot of cancer patients. But a couple of years ago one in particular stood out.
The child, who was bald from the treatment, reminded Dr Shastri of his training at an oncology hospital – where he used to see a steady stream of young cancer sufferers.
At the time he wanted to help them, but did not know how. This time, he had an idea.
He would start growing his hair to donate to a charity that makes wigs for paediatric patients.
“I asked them, can I donate my hair? They said anyone can, but it should be at least nine inches [23cm],” said Dr Shastri, who works at NMC Speciality Hospital Abu Dhabi.
“I started growing my hair in June 2019. It is now 11 inches [28cm]. I tie it at the back and nowadays, since the Covid-19 epidemic started, we wear hair scrub caps to go to the wards, so it’s usually hidden.”
When he first started growing it, his children, now 7 and 13, were embarrassed.
“Their peers or friends said your dad and mum look the same. They said: 'Why are you growing your hair? You are humiliating us. One night when you’re sleeping we will cut it',” he said.
But once they understood why he was doing it, they were supportive.
His daughter and wife even decided to join.
“When my daughter saw the photos on the internet, she said she wanted to do it, too,” Dr Shastri said.
Together they donated 90cm of hair to be used to create wigs for children.
“I am fortunate because I am 50. So this is the age where a lot of people start losing hair. I still have mine.
"A lot of my friends ask: 'Can you transplant your hair to me?'"
But donating his hair has helped him to fulfil a long-held ambition to do something to help the children he saw when he was training.
“It reignited the idea in me that I should do something.”