Feranmi Okanlami | High Roller #24


Feranmi Okanlami is Disabusing Disability! What does that mean?

It means that every day he is demonstrating that being DISabled does not mean UNable, by providing examples, opportunities, and resources for individuals to lead healthy, active, and fulfilling lives. We are all uniquely able…so let’s stop focusing on what we can’t do and focus on what we can! There is A LOT that Feranmi can and is doing. Get to know him!



Occupation: Physician in Family Medicine

Injury Level: C6 incomplete

Cause of Injury: July 4, 2013 I jumped into a pool

Siblings: I have one sister who is 2 years older. She is trained as a lawyer and currently living in Nigeria. She is in the process of becoming able to practice law there.

Children: I have a 6 year old son, Alexander. My son is an amazing young man.

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria. I came to the states when I was 2 years old. Half our family is still in Nigeria, the rest is in the United States and England.

Current residence: South Bend, IN

Education/Degrees: I went to high school in Massachusetts, college at Stanford, Med School at Michigan, Orthopedic Surgery Residency at Yale where I had my accident, then earned a Master’s at Notre Dame, and am now completing my Family Medicine Residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, IN.

Other accomplishment you’re proud of? I am proud of a lot before my injury but anything I have done post-injury has been 10x sweeter. I didn’t stop pushing and surpassed the expectations. The culmination of all my work is that I have recently accepted a position at the University of Michigan. I will be doing work in 3 departments- Family Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Office for Health Equity and Inclusion.

Do you have a mentor? Yes, I have had many mentors at various stages of my life. My parents are my role models. I’ve had athletic mentors since I was a student athlete and in med school there were other black male physicians I turned to. Now with my disability, it’s a new world. I am both a patient and a provider so I am learning new perspectives.

Favorite music/musician: R&B, Hip Hop, Classical, Pop, Jazz…really anything that makes my head bob.

Favorite films: Films with a twist that make you think, like Sixth Sense or Inception. And, I am not opposed to good chick flick.

Favorite books/authors: Medical humanities books; Shakespeare, in high school and college we dissected these works and they are interesting because they identify the human condition through characters, with flaws and strengths, real people that struggle. Oliver Sacks books- about the patient experience, not scientific, but the human aspect. They’ve shaped the type of doctor I hope to be.

Where did you go on your last vacation? Nigeria in October 2016. I went on a medical mission to my grandfather’s village and provided medical care

Do you have a pet? Kingston, he is a brindle Boston terrier. (Really my sister’s dog, but he’s been living with us for a while.)

Do you work out or play any sports? I play wheelchair basketball and coach a local team. I also play sled hockey. I try to make it to the gym as often as I can…I knew it was time to get back at it when I was given a “Six Pack Coming Soon” – t-shirt…I wanted to take a sharpie and edit it to “coming BACK Soon.”

Activities/Hobbies?  I used to play piano, violin, and percussion. Now I’ll play drums in friends’ bands… I try to sing 😉

That brings me to a very important question, your default karaoke song? Oh, I have a few. Shai – If I Ever Fall In Love, Careless Whisper – George Michael, and Shaggy – It Wasn’t Me

What takes up the majority of your time? I work 80 hours a week

What do you do in your free time? Mentoring people with SCI. I want to share with people that even if you don’t get function back it is what you make with what you got. I am just one example but there are so many people with SCI doing amazing things! Sometimes it’s not until you see it, you see others doing it, that you feel it is possible for you too.

A short term goal: Well, this is short term and long term too – to walk without an assistive device

A Long term goal: Accessible and inclusive healthcare system for patients and providers with disabilities.

Anything else you want to tell us? Why do we focus so much on what a person can NOT do, rather than celebrate people for what they CAN do? You’d be surprised at the things you could learn, and people you could meet.


Follow Feranmi’s Page on Facebook – Disabusing Disability


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