Mane Shah was born in Vientiane, Laos in 1978. His family did not support communism; so, at the age of 7 years old, Mane escaped Laos with his grandparents and one of his two younger brothers. In an effort to avoid suspicion and the government’s attention, his parents and one brother sacrificed and remained behind. For three years, Mane lived in hiding within the unsettled regions between Laos and Thailand, never in one place very long. In 1988, at ten years old, Mane, his grandparents and brother made it to the Napoo refugee camp in Nakorn Phanom, Thailand. They spent six months here and then another six months at an American refugee camp in the Philippines. This American refugee camp put the family in touch with Mane’s grandmother’s half-sister in the United States. In solidarity with her relations who sought democracy, she sponsored Mane’s family as political refugees to the United States.
In March of 1989, Mane arrived in Utah as a refugee seeking political asylum. Mane was almost 12 years old and had no formal education thus far. He lived in his grandmother’s half-sister’s basement for six months with his grandparents, brother, three aunts and an uncle. Eventually they took a train to Springfield, Massachusetts to live with Mane’s grandfather’s brothers who had escaped to the United States earlier. Springfield became Mane’s first real home. In the fall of 1989, Mane began his first year of education as a sixth grader in Duggan Middle School. He spoke and understood no English at this time.
However, Mane understood one thing: within the warm embrace of the United States democracy, he was free for the first time. And for him this meant he could pursue an education in medicine. When Mane lived on the refugee camps, a malaria epidemic swept through. To this day, Mane vividly recalls walking past deceased and dying bodies as a young boy. He remembers the pain he felt witnessing the helplessness and anguish. As a young boy with no education or worldly knowledge, Mane didn’t entirely understand what a doctor was or how one became a doctor. He didn’t know whether it was a respectable profession or high earning. That youngster growing up in refugee camps just knew that his heart ached as his companions lost loved ones and he wanted to be the person who helped.
When Mane began middle school in Springfield, he did value education thanks to his grandparents. Although to others, pursuing a career in medicine seemed unattainable in Mane’s circumstances, his family supported him in every way. For a family with nothing, it was a challenge simply getting Mane to school every day. But they did it. In return for his family efforts and support, Mane worked and studied hard to bring the family honor. He learned English in ESL classes provided by the public schools; he had to study twice as hard as his peers who grew up in the US. In 1997, Mane graduated from high school with a full scholarship to the University of Massachusetts. Two years earlier, his parents and remaining brother had finally also escaped from Laos and joined Mane in the United States. So the day of his high school graduation, his entire family celebrated in awe, humbled by their incredible journey.
Mane was the first in his family to enter college. He continued to work hard with the goal of a medical career driving him. However, Mane was at some serious disadvantages. Having never been in school until the age of twelve and having learned English as a teenager, the foundation of his education was not as privileged as his peers. His college counselor told him point blank, “I don’t think you’ll ever become a doctor. You need to pick something more practical.” Although the counselor’s words are forever etched in Mane’s heart, he didn’t let the counselor steer him away from the goal he had set for himself as a boy. He continued to struggle and work hard.
In 2008, Mane completed his medical residency from United Health Services in Johnson City, New York. He was now a husband, a father to 2 year old twins and a doctor. His father had dear friends in Las Vegas, Nevada. To respond to his father’s sacrifice for him years earlier, Mane moved his family to Las Vegas. Although they had spent years working factory jobs, the suffering economy had left his parents unemployed. Grateful for the hard work of his parents and grandparents which led him to his final success, Mane brought them all to Vegas and generously shared his home with them.
Today, Mane and his wife lovingly share their home with not only his parents and grandparents, but his brother, cousin and a nephew as well. In a culture where no one is left behind, where family makes every possible sacrifice to stay alive and together, Mane says there has never been a question of living without his extended family. They were there for him when he had nothing and now it is simply his turn to take care of them. Mane doesn’t see the way he lives his life as extraordinary, but for those of us around him, he is extraordinary. This is not a man who would inflict pain on anyone. This is not a man who would put himself before the needs of others. This is a man who genuinely wants to ease suffering and help others; a model for other physicians. It pains the friends and family around Mane, to see him unjustly accused of a malicious crime because we know that violating any patient’s trust would mean turning his back on those poor malaria-ridden bodies he had to walk by as a boy. And even today, as Mane cares for his patients, he does it for those unfortunate ones who never made it out of the refugee camps. He is a man who practices medicine to keep his covenant to those other boys who lost their lives to malaria long ago and to earn his family the quality of life he feels they deserve for their hard work and endurance.
Mane has been mistakenly accused of a horrible crime. As Americans who have the deepest faith in our justice system, we know that the truth will be revealed and Mane’s good name will be cleared. However, it has been painful to see the unjust persecution that an innocent man receives in the hands of the media. Mane struggled long and hard to achieve his career in medicine; however, with a quick keystroke, his reputation can be tarnished by speculating journalists. The journalists mean well. They intend to defend victims. However, Mane is not the correct target.
We intend this website to be a place where the public can learn more about Mane, his journey and his character. We also intend it as a place where people can show their support, emotional or financial. While many may draw quick conclusions about a physician’s ability to pay legal fees, times have changed. Physicians no longer make the extreme high incomes they enjoyed decades ago. Today, physicians sacrifice years of potential income and take out exorbitant student loans to make it through medical school and training. For Mane, the financial impact of this legal matter is compounded by the fact that he is the sole breadwinner for his elderly grandparents, parents, a minor cousin, brother, his wife and three kids. His brother and wife are now struggling to work in order to pay daily bills. Like most others, Mane did not expect to find himself in this intense financial and legal situation.
Many have come forward enthusiastic to help Mane defend himself and his family’s dignity. Some of these people are those who know his excellent character well and support him unwaveringly. Other supporters are those who understand what easy target healthcare providers are for these sorts of allegations. Also, unfortunately, it costs little to no money to defame someone without any evidence; it costs a lot more to defend an innocent man well through the justice system. Thus, there are many supporters who believe Mane deserves a just trial in a court and not a quick conclusion drawn by those in media who look for thrill and excitement. There also those faithful supporters of healthcare, who believe that anyone who sacrifices so much to be a caretaker deserves our care. Lastly, there are those who believe that a family who risked their lives to enter into the fold of the Unites States democracy is our responsibility to protect from unfair prosecution.
Mane is innocent. We ask that you please share his story and consider providing some support through the Mane Shah Legal Defense Fund. A fair defense for an innocent man is emotionally trying and costly. You may donate money or send support emails through this site. Please support Dr. Shah.