There are many naysayers who discourage people from dreaming but on countless occasions, stories such as that of the first Black woman to lead the adult neurosurgery department at the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) is all the proof one needs to keep dreaming.
Dr. Sonia Eden nursed dreams of being a surgeon since she was a toddler. A four-year-old Eden would perform fake brain surgeries on her mother who had chronic migraines. Now she can perform that surgery for her as the new Chief of Neurosurgery at the DMC Harper University Hospital after leaving private practice in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she worked for 12 years.
The Detroit native is not only living her dream but paving the way for many Black women and people of color to do the same.
“I’m here to show every little girl out there that you can be whatever you want to be, you just set your mind forward and work hard, and you can do it,” said Eden.
According to Click On Detroit, Eden has been shattering glass ceilings way before her new appointment. She is the first Black woman to train and complete a residency in neurological surgery at the University of Michigan. In addition, she is among the first women of color to major in mechanical engineering at Yale University.
Eden reiterates that about only 8% of women specialize in neurosurgery and just a handful of them accounting for about 33% are African Americans. To put things in perspective, Black female neurosurgeons make up just 0.5% of the neurosurgeons in America.
“I have to come to Detroit to invest in the city that invested heavily in me,” shared Eden. “This is where my heart is. This is where my home is. It means a lot to come back and help in the growth of a program and something great for the citizens of Detroit.”
Eden operates with the philosophy that trust and communication is the foundation of every doctor-patient relationship and advocates for the creation of safe spaces where patients can communicate freely with their doctors.
She is on a mission to get more Black women neurosurgeons in the US, the more reason she moved to Detroit to take on the new role as the leader of the DMC adult neurosurgery department while addressing health disparities.
One of the passions of the board-certified American Board of Neurological Surgeon is health equity, which led her to do extensive studies on healthcare disparities. Also, the first book ever written on the surgical management of the sacroiliac joint was co-authored by Eden. In addition to her extensive research on the sacroiliac joint, she is a pioneer of minimally invasive anterior approaches to the spine.
Eden has been spreading her Black Girl Magic by mentoring and educating other physicians throughout her career while serving on several boards in her community. According to the DMC media group, Eden, a member of the Links, Incorporated, has served on the YWCA of Kalamazoo Board, The Friendship Village Senior Living Board, The Ascension Borgess Foundation Board and the Kalamazoo Chapter of Big Brother/Big Sisters Board.