Battling asthma while growing up in Beaver Falls, Sheldon Stewart Smith still wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and join the military. Instead, he embraced a new fight to help liberate Blacks all over the world while using his medical degree as a perfusionist and respiratory therapist. He is now a highly sought-after doctor on the frontlines battling COVID-19 in one of the nation’s biggest hotspots — Cleveland Clinic/Fort Lauderdale-Miami.
As the youngest of three children born to Army 2nd Lt. Calvin Smith and Betty Cross (Stratton) Smith, Sheldon Stewart Smith — nicknamed “BuBu” and now known as Dr. Ahmses SaRa Maat — grew up aspiring to become a military hero, much like his father, who was a WWII veteran in the African American flying regiment known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Childhood disability empowered and unknowingly helped steer his career path
Maat reflected on how growing up with chronic asthma impacted his life as a teen navigating life as a young adult, trying to avoid peer pressure.
“It was tough because kids can be mean. Along with the asthma, I also suffered skin rashes. I’d get teased by the boys, but even worse — my girlfriends would shy away, once the skin disorder took effect,” he sadly recalled. “I remember lying in bed praying to God for the ability to just breath normally like everyone else.”
Living with asthma as a child, not only hindered Maat’s aspirations for early athletic prowess, but after high school graduation, a failed military physical exam,