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Nigerian-born medical illustrator, Chidiebere Ibe, causes stir in U.S., draws racially diverse medical diagrams

  • Ibe using his passion for medicine and art to “fix that inequality” of having all medical illustrations in textbooks or doctor’s offices depicted as White, now drawing patients who are Black

Chidiebere Ibe, a medical illustrator and aspiring neurosurgeon, noticed that the patients in medical diagrams are always depicted as White. So, he decided to change that. 

Ibe, who is from Nigeria, began drawing different medical illustrations – such as a fetus in a womb, lung conditions, and eczema – all of patients who are Black. Typically, medical illustrations in textbooks or doctor’s offices are White, and Ibe said he wanted to use his passion for medicine and art to “fix that inequality.”

“The underrepresentation of black skin medical illustration in medical textbooks and as tool of communication in the public health sector has brought a bridge in Doctor-Patient communication,” Ibe writes on Instagram, where he shares his illustrations. “My goal is to create medical illustration of such.”

Earlier this year, Ibe was raising money for his tuition at Kyiv Medical School in Ukraine. In 2020, he became creative director of several medical journals, including the Journal of Global Neurosurgery, according to a YouTube video, where he promotes his drawings as well as his fundraiser for med school.

Ibe says the lack of diversity in medical illustrations has implications for medical trainees because many conditions may look different based on people’s skin color. He also says representation matters and that Black students are more engaged with illustrations that portray their skin color. 

“I have decided to change the status quo by portraying anatomy, physiology and pathology on the Black skin,” he writes in his YouTube video.

Ibe, now a first-year medical student in Ukraine, went viral for his drawings on social media this week. The illustrations even caught the eye of “CBS Mornings” anchor Nate Burleson. “You don’t realize you haven’t seen it until somebody shows you this,” Burleson said Tuesday. 

“I have never, ever seen that. I love how you set it up: ‘Didn’t realize how much I was missing until I saw it,'” said “CBS Mornings” anchor Gayle King. “Never saw a picture of a black baby, a fetus, inside the stomach, ever.”

CBS News has reached out to Ibe and is awaiting response.

First published in CBS News,

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