Once upon a time…not so long ago..oops not ago…! Ok I give up. I don’t know how to start a story… But at any cost, I wanted to tell this story.. its about a doctor…
As the ‘Doctor’ bustles about the Cardio Thoracic Centre at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), few can tell that, on January 7, he was at the same operation theatre in a different capacity.
The roles had reversed that day and ‘Doctor’, one of India’s best-known heart surgeons, was being operated upon himself by the same team that now assists him.
To the layman, that bypass surgery was stunning for one simple reason. ‘Doctor’, who conducted the first heart transplant in the country, picked the junior-most faculty member, Dr A K Bisoi, to operate upon him.
Bisoi has been the eminent surgeon’s assistant for five years. The rest of the team, including the anaesthetist, Dr Sandeep Chauhan, is the same that routinely accompanies ‘Doctor’ during his operations.
“I have been associated with the department for more than 30 years and have complete faith in people I have trained,” said ‘Doctor’, who is already back to performing surgery himself. “Even if a patient comes in the middle of the night, he will receive the same treatment.”
The thought of picking another eminent name to do the honours when he went under the knife did not even cross his mind. What is good enough for his patients is good enough for him, says ‘Doctor’.
“I have seen the team work with me for years. I know how they function and how good they are. So if I can trust my patients with them, I can trust myself with them,” he said.
Now that he is back on his feet, there is a quiet sense of pride in his eyes. He looks at his young assistant, Dr Bisoi, and says: “Do you know he was born the year I finished my MBBS? As a teacher, I am proud of all my students.”
The surgery was conducted in the same operation theatre and on the same operation table that ‘Doctor’ has been using since he joined AIIMS as a faculty member in 1970. For the team operating on him, however, it was a test of nerves.
“No matter how good you are, your teacher is always the best,” said Dr Bisoi. “He has taught me for 11 years. It was a great feeling that he trusted me so much. Though I was not nervous, this was the first time I was praying for the patient’s full recovery throughout the surgery.”
The responsibility was huge, as the only people ‘Doctor’ had confided in were his assistants. He did not even tell his immediate family about his surgery.
He said that he detected his problem during a routine check up on January 6. The condition was not acute but he decided to get the surgery done before it worsened. So, the very next day, he was on the operating table.
The run-up to the surgery was not easy on his assistants. Emotions were involved. “I even called him even late at night before the surgery,” said Dr Bisoi.
‘Doctor’ made it easier for them. He walked into the operation theatre and gave them detailed instructions before lying down on the table. “Just five hours after surgery, he was giving me instructions on what to do with the tubes used for anaesthesia,” said Dr Chauhan.
Added Dr Bisoi: “As he regained consciousness, he inquired about the patients in ICU.” By night, ‘Doctor’ was back a home. On January 24, he was performing surgeries again. “I believe what I tell my patients about the surgery,” he said. “It doesn’t make you ill, it makes you healthy and normal.
“My patients keep asking me if they can travel by air, by train. I tell them if they did it when they were ill, why can’t they do it when they are fine,” said ‘Doctor’.
This was a news pick up from a leading newspaper of the country dated some time ago. And now to some facts about this great gentleman of our times.
Why don’t we hear about him all these days?? Dr. P. Venugopal?
For all his achievements, he is known to be an extremely media-shy person; he once retorted to a journalist who wanted to interview him saying - "I have nothing to tell you and i do not want the publicity".
What are his achievements?
A gold medalist at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Also spent time training under the legendary heart surgeaon Dr. Cooley and the Texas Heart Institute. Regarded as the foremost heart-surgeon on the country he is also the pioneer of open-heart surgery. He performed the first heart transplant in India in the year 1994. He was also in the news last year for his thoughts on stem-cell research which promises to revolutionarize heart-surgery. He is the man who has given Indian medication an international standard.
Patients talk about how they'd rather come to AIIMS rather than go to a private hospital even if they can afford the private hospitals since Dr. Venugopal personally interacts with patients. Students and colleagues are in awe of him.
And after all these…
With 46 years of service at AIIMS, having succesfully performed 50,000 open heart surgeries and 15,000 closed-heart surgeries and tremendous respect all around, you expect the government to treat him well, right? Well, in case you haven't read about it - they fired him three days ago. With immediate effect.
Health minister Ramadoss said he was being sacked on disciplinarian grounds. What was his fault? He criticized the government for interfering in the hospital's administration. Apparently, going by the govt. law, you cannot do this. Something to do with the fact that you are a govt. servant. There is no freedom of speech for the govt servants, though.
The way, he was ousted is really shameful.
1) He was not even on the agenda in the meeting where his fate was sealed!
2) When the topic was brought up, he was asked to leave the room without even getting a chance to explain himself. The minister did not bother about heeding others' advice on this issue.
3) Of the 17 people in that room, most are affiliated to the health ministry. There were only three dissenting voices. Even those who did not dissent were unhappy with the way the minister hammered his voice in.
4) All the time, Dr. Venugopal was waiting outside the room like a petty peon.
When the news was anounced, he was visibly shaken and had to be assisted to his car.
First, he was accused of supporting anti-reservation students, which was against the minister’s own views. This charge has been openly proved to be false. The person who headed the anti-reservation strike said that, Dr. V called him and warned him to call off the strike.
And even if Dr.Venugopal was to be guilty, in this case he is not, it is not the way to treat a senior doctor who has served the country with all his ‘Heart’ and time for over half a century(!) Its really a shameful day in the history of modern India where the politicians behave asif they are the Gods and they have solution to every problem! But where the problem is the Governamant itself and the ill-interpret democracy of the country. The politicians create problems themselves and give a solution which was not called for and could be accounted for. They are upto spoiling the civilization. Oh! My fellow country men, lets be united against these wicked, garbage headed sheepish devils.