Late politician Pramod Mahajan’s hospitalisation has put the spotlight on the medical fraternity. Rishi Majumder gets a short-list of the city’s top docs
Photographer: Pal Pillai
Picking out the right doctor at a time of crisis is often a tough call. But an even more insurmountable task is to get other doctors to rate the best of their brethren, given the many different opinions that surface. We narrowed down to a list of 20 doctors who are known for pioneering work in their respective fields, and sought opinions of fellow professionals, to arrive at the best five.
Dr Gustad B Daver has been in the news as much for his high profile patients (from Pramod Mahajan, recently, to Mai Ambedkar, in 2001) as for his stellar work in his field of specialisation. He assisted the central government to draft the guidelines of The Transplantation Of Human Organs Act (1994). It came as no surprise then, when Dr Daver won the Lifetime Achievement Award for meritorious services in medicine by SEWA (Social, Educational and Welfare Association) in 2003.
Having done his MBBS and Master of Surgery from Government Medical College Aurangabad, he went on to do a post doctoral fellowship, under the renowned and acclaimed Dr Michael E DeBakey (Houston, USA), in the two fields he specialises in – Thoracic Vascular Surgery and Multi Organ Transplant Surgery. “Super-specialisation is the buzzword in the medical fraternity. The new generation is focussed and has its goals right,” he says.
He faced two challenges during the ’92 – ’93 riots and the Bombay bomb blasts, when hundreds of patients flooded JJ Hospital all at once. “I was the dean as well as professor of surgery. Hence, I had to worry about both the administrative as well as medical sides,” he remembers. Victims of this tragedy swore by the medical staff’s commitment on these days. A man, who had arrived profusely bleeding from his hip, and whose life Dr Daver had saved, still visits him.
The doctor is a green card holder, who came back to his home country to practice medicine is also keenly interested in “reading and medico-social activities which in which I am involved along with my wife (Rekha)”. Dr Daver admits that kidney and liver transplants are now conducted in Mumbai with relative ease, he feels that there are a few mountains to be scaled yet. “Heart and lung transplants have yet to be started, awareness has to be spread about multi organ transplant surgery, hospitals have to co-operate with one another and share ‘brain-dead but heart-beating cadavers’ and organs and families have to be convinced that gifting an organ is equivalent to gifting a life.”
“Dr Daver is immensely well read and a knowledgeable person. But I think what has put him in the respectable position he is in, is his sincerity and immense capacity for hard work.”
— DR. MUFFAZAL LAKDAWALA, GASTRO-SURGEON
Dr Kiran Coelho, gyanaecologist and obstetrician, lauded by many (including Hrithik Roshan, whose baby she delivered recently) is known for her introduction of Ultrasonics – the use of ultrasound in surgery — in Mumbai. “The ultrasonic coagulator replaces laser and electro-surgery to achieve the same effect at much lower temperatures,” Coelho explains. “So there’s minimal lateral damage to the tissues and far more precise dissection and sealing during surgery. Also, no electricity passes through the patient.”
Another marvel introduced by Coehlo at Leelavati is the Birthing Chair, which “aligns the axis of the birth canal with the axis of pushing”, squatting being the ideal position for delivery. A double gold medallist in gynaecology, Dr Coehlo went on from her MBBS and MD at Grant Medical College to do fellowships with Nassau County Medical Centre at New York and Texas Woman’s Hospital at Houston. The head of the gynaecology department at Leelavati, Dr Coelho is also the visiting doctor at Breach Candy and Saifi Hospitals. She charges Rs 500 consultation, and surgeries vary from Rs 25,000 to one lakh.
However, she operates herself only on very high risk Obstetrics cases such as pregnancies coupled with heart disease, hypertension or venal failure. One of her most challenging cases has been a twin pregnancy with one embryo in the uterus, another having ruptured in the tube. She removed the whole tube through a laproscopy, ensuring the other was delivered safely. The doctor who works an average of 18 hours a day and hasn’t taken a “single holiday but for my own delivery”, nevertheless loves visiting Malaysia and the US for her conferences. For the future, she’s actively following the progress in Robotics surgery which will ensure even better technique and precision.
A 54-year-old man with a face like a mask can barely move his hands or legs. A flick of a button however and the Parkinson’s patient starts talking animatedly, gesticulating and then walks confidently out of the hospital room. “That’s why I call my neuro-surgery ‘functional’ neuro-surgery,” Dr Paresh Doshi explains. When the governor of Gujarat saw the example, however, called it a “miracle” he’d seen for the first time in 80 years of his life.
Achieving this miracle involved implanting electrodes in the man’s brain stem and a battery in his chest. This process, called Deep Brain Stimulation, was to be controlled by a remote. However, those unable to afford this surgical procedure (Rs 5,00,000) could opt for Sub Thalamic Nucleus Lesioning (Rs 1,00,000), another of Dr Doshi’s specialities. A reputed neurosurgeon with core competencies in Parkinson’s Disease and Epilepsy, Dr Doshi went on to study Neurosurgery in London after his MBBS and MS from Srimati NHL Municipal Medical College. “But when I came back to India I found that there were newer discoveries being made in this field,” he recounts. So he did something few doctors would have the courage to do — he went back to re-learn, re-study and pick up Deep Brain Stimulation under Professor Bena Grenabol of France. And with medical tourism being the next best thing to happen to the Indian medical profession, “15 per cent of my patients come from abroad,” says Doshi. He charges Rs 700 for a single consultation.
His future plans? To be able to one day “treat psychiatric disorders such as bi-polar depression or OCD with surgery”.
“The field Dr Doshi is in requires dedication as well as training. He does not perform a routine brain surgery but has excelled in areas which have become his forte. I often refer many of my cases to him that need a specialised second opinion.”
— DR KEKI TUREL, NEURO-SURGEON
Very few oncologists can claim to have been involved in the development of their respective discipline, from its nascent stages to where it stands now. Dr Advani remembers a time when, “this branch was almost non-existent”. Having trained under Luminary Fred Hutchinson (Nobel Prize winner for his pioneering work on bone marrow transplantation) before he even won the award, to researching genome technology for fighting cancers is a one long journey. He has been a part of every revolution cancer treatment has gone through, from combined modality treatment – which uses drugs, surgery and radiation therapy in a combination to fight cancer – to targetic treatment, which focuses on tumour cells without harming the surrounding cells.
“Oncology has to be treated with a human approach,” points out Advani. “People have to be treated with a lot of care and sympathy so that they can be made a part of the treatment process. Even the surgery has to be more conservative than radical.” He was a part of the first bone marrow transplant, which was performed on a nine-year-old girl. “The father gave us a free hand and the girl is alive today even after 25 years,” he smiles. While Advani charges between Rs 500 to 1000 for his consultation fees, the cost of treatment ranges from Rs 10,000 per course for Hutchkins disease to Rs 30,000 for lung cancer. An average treatment takes six courses. “I’m excited about genome technology because it might enable us to switch off the mechanism which causes the cells to multiply
without damaging the cells at all,” Advani
“What makes Dr Advani so extraordinary is that despite having so much know-how in his field, he is so down to earth. He gives all his time to patients and meets people till late in the night with a smile on his face, radiating positive energy.”
— DR CHETNA BAKSHI, ONCOLOGIST
He wanted to be a plastic surgeon, but not having the resources to study the subject in Singapore, Dr Sanjay Borude finally found his calling in a somewhat similar discipline six years ago. Today, Borude is the only obesity surgeon in the country and predictably a very busy one. Being consulted on the subject by top politicians and film stars alike, his area of expertise consists of two types of surgeries – Gastric Binding (the stomach is restricted by a band to give early satiety) and Gastric Bypass (a bypass of the first part of the small intestine for reduced calorie absorption).
Dr Borude, who specialised in the subject in medical schools in Belgium and Spain, says, “The difference between this and a normal surgery is that here the doctor-patient relationship goes on long after the surgery. Drugs and food intake have to be closely monitored.” He remembers a particularly difficult surgery where he had to operate upon a person weighing 300 kgs, standing on a stool so he could reach into the stomach area. But the toughest challenge for him remains to convince a patient to go in for the surgery. “In the US, these surgeries are more common than cardiac surgeries, and rightly so, for obesity is an obvious cause of heart disease,” Dr Borude points out. But in India, “a patient I don’t want to name, a famous politician, was scared of losing his ‘image’. Another famous singer was scared of losing his voice with his weight. It’s hilarious!”
“Dr Borude is unique, in that he is dedicated to obesity surgery. His clinical acumen, fantastic surgical skills as well as constant interaction with international faculty give him that edge.”
— DR VINOD SINGHAL, GASTRO ENDOLOGIST
This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/djgc