Before the terrorist attacks of September 11th, before his life tragically ended when his plane crashed into the Pentagon, Dr. Yeneneh Betru, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, immigrated to the United States in 1982 with the dream of becoming a physician. His goal was a result of a promise he made to his grandmother to cure her of all that ailed an old woman.
He attended high school at the Abbey School in Colorado, College at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, Medical School at the University of Michigan, and later completed his residency at Los Angeles County–USC Medical Center. During the last three years, he worked as the Director of Medical Affairs for IPC–The Hospitalist Company in Burbank, California. One of the pioneers in a new practice of medicine referred to as Hospitalist Care, he traveled around the country to train hundreds of physicians. Yeneneh was a young man full of drive and ambition and served as a great example to his whole family. He was a friend, a role model, and a mentor to his younger siblings, who often say, “all our accomplishments are a result of his guidance, I don’t know what we are going to do without him.”
In June 1998, when his grandmother became ill, Dr. Betru flew to Ethiopia to aide her doctors. Due to lack of equipment and supplies she, unfortunately, passed away during his watch. “With poor facilities and absent equipment, the sick have little chance of survival,” he often said. With a renewed sense of responsibility, Dr. Betru vowed to help enhance the condition of medical facilities in Ethiopia, beginning the process of creating a kidney dialysis clinic in Addis Ababa. In present day Ethiopia, given the lack of kidney dialysis machines, persons with kidney failure have virtually no chance of survival. Investing his own time and money, Dr. Betru acquired a half dozen dialysis machines, solutions and supplies. It was while Dr. Betru was working with the Ethiopian government to designate the proper location for the clinic that the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 ended his dream on American Airlines Flight 77. It is a chilling irony that a man dedicated to enhancing human life was taken away by one of history’s worst acts of disregard for human life.
Dr. Betru was only 35 and just beginning his life after years of education and planning for the future. Who knew his future would be so short?
He is survived by his father, Mr. Betru Wolde Tensay; his mother, Mrs. Sara Tesheberu; his brother, Sirak Betru; his sister, Ruth Betru; his brother, Aron Betru; and countless other family and friends.