Today is doctors’ day. I was bit overwhelmed to get so many calls and SMS messages from my patients. It is in the fitness of things that I remember few doctors who really lived up the oath they took to serve the people.
The earliest was my own GP Dr Shanbhag. My memories of this doctor go back to over 60 years. I was a very sick child prone to many respiratory illnesses. It was a rural set up that Dr Shanbhag practiced in. His wife was his assistant. He handled all ailments and I remember an episode when I was unwell with whooping cough when he sat with me when I was racked with paroxysms of cough. He was overworked, was paid poorly by his patients [they could not afford], he took no precautions to remain fit and died in his fifties with a heart attack.
It is surprising that I came across none who really is worth remembering during my medical school days. But one who deserves to be remembered is Dr Sarosh Patel about whom I have written in this blog some time ago. There were a few seniors and colleagues who lived up to the Hippocratic Oath. They too died before their time. First of them was Dr Manjappa Gowda who came from a farming back ground and remained a simple farmer at heart till the end when a fatal heart attack claimed him. Unlike others Dr Manjappa served in the government health service as a genera surgeon. His skills under adverse conditions of work were legendry. He was known to act as anesthetist and also as a surgeon with help from assistants whom he had trained. This he did in places with primitive facilities in rural and semi urban setting. His personal life was full of tragedies which he bore with great equanimity. His solace was tobacco which probably contributed to his early death.
Next is Dr.M.R.R.Rao who again was unfortunate to have been born with polycystic Kidneys which ultimately took his life though he had some extension of life because of a successful renal trabsplant.He was one of the first who returned to India spurning offers of a very lucrative carrier in the US 35 years ago. He was way ahead of his times and was brilliant in whatever he did. He pioneered use of endoscopes and tried doing arterial grafts. Many of us who got our patients operated by him remember him for his skills and commitment.
The last one to go [a week ago] was Dr Malathi Rao. A specialist surgeon and a gynecologist, she too returned to India giving up a very promising carrier in the US. She too like M.R.R.Rao was a pioneer. She trained scores of doctors in the use of laparoscope. She was also the first o introduce endoscopic uterine procedures in this city. Lately she was doing excellent work in the field of infertility. Sadly she fell victim to cancer and died fighting the disease.
There are a few others who are still alive who are practicing true to the oath they have taken [ I am reluctant to write about them because they are still living!] but the large majority for various reasons are not and this is not the occasion to write the why and what of it. There in one thing that was common in the lives of all the doctors whom I have written above. They all placed the interests of the patient above that of other considerations and were prepared to pay a price. None of them made a lot of money though they could have and none went after recognition or status. They lived up to their own set of high standards and were worthy examples for others to follow.