Eighteen-year-old Ibrahim El-Salaam, aka “I-Bizzle,” was born with a blood disorder called sickle cell disease and has been coming to Seattle Children’s Hospital for as long as he can remember. His disease has required him to spend a lot of time in the Inpatient Cancer Unit at Seattle Children’s, which houses patients who require inpatient stays for both cancer and blood disorders. When he’s there, he likes to find fun ways to pass the time – like making an “MTV Cribs”-inspired video to show off his pad in the country’s first Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Unit, which opened last year.
In the video, El-Salaam proudly shows off features like his “electric slide doors,” multi-colored LED lights, personal safe and mini refrigerator, as well as the gym where he blows off steam. He also highlights the unit’s patient and family lounge that has a flat-screen TV, Xbox and, as he says, a water machine “like what you find in McDonalds.”
But what’s his favorite feature? The 42-inch flat-screen TV in his room of course, which also doubles as a computer. The TV has “Get Well Town,” an interactive Internet-equipped TV entertainment system with access to live and on-demand TV programming, movies and games. It also allows patients to connect to the Internet and visit popular sites like Facebook.
“Why would I sit in my bed with a computer when my TV can be my computer,” said El-Salaam. “It’s awesome.”
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video
He had worked with Seattle Children’s video team on a few other projects, and when the opportunity arose to host an “MTV Cribs”-style video, he jumped at it because he was a fan of the show. He took the idea and ran with it, coming up with his character, “I-Bizzle,” and thinking of how he wanted to highlight certain features of the unit.
“The new unit is a fun place with a lot of cool things,” El-Salaam said. “It was easy to present the floor because there are so many fun and unique things for patients there, like having a TV in your room that lets you watch movies or surf the Internet.”
Ibrahim said he had a blast making the video and is happy with the result.
“It was a lot of fun to make and it came out to be pretty amazing,” he said.
What’s next for Ibrahim?
So does El-Salaam see a future for himself as a famous TV host, singer or movie star? No. His dream is to become a nurse and work at Seattle Children’s in the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
“I just want to work with and be around the kids there,” he said.
He says that the fun nature of the video also gets across another message he feels is important.
“No matter what obstacle gets in your way, you can still be positive, have fun, laugh and enjoy life,” he said. “If you can overcome the difficulties that life throws at you, then you can achieve almost anything.”
If you’d like to make a donation to support Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, please visit our donate page and specify that you’d like to give to the center.
- Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) Sickle Cell Program
- Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program
- Building Hope, Part 1: Top Ten Features of Cancer Inpatient Unit
- Seattle Children’s Building Hope expansion
If you’d like to interview Ibrahim, please contact Seattle Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.