Himachal Heart Surgeons – In Service Of The Poor

Shimla: For the ailing heart patients in far flung valleys, the option of heart surgeries at Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital (IGMCH), Shimla has come as a God send opportunity, especially for the poor and deprived who get the expensive specialized treatment free of costs.

Doctor RS Pathania – credited with having established the super specialist Cardio-Thoracic-Vascular Surgery (CTVS) department at IGMCH, is however, not a satisfied man yet.

Dr Pathania

“It’s only half the journey done. Gaining expertise in doing challenging heart surgeries of congenital defects in newborns would put our department among the best in the country,” he says.

Being in the government sector, the super-specialty facility has enabled the poor to avail costly heart treatments through a cashless insurance facility or through the chief minister relief fund.

“It was not easy to convince the government and the medical fraternity for a specialist heart center at IGMC in the first place,” says Pathania, now a veteran of 500 open heart surgeries which includes beating heart surgeries.

There were reasons for opposing the CTVS center because other than PGI Chandigarh and Post-graduate Medical Institute, Rohtak, there was hardly any specialist heart center in the state sector in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir.

Dr Sudhir Mehta
Sudhir Mehta, a CTVS surgeon and part of Dr Pathania’s team says, “As we gain expertise, the number of heart surgeries performed each year is rising.” The numbers speak for themselves.

In 2006 -the year the department with a dedicated special operation theater became functional, for a start 82 heart surgeries were done. In 2007 a total of 93 surgeries were done, in 2008 the number touched 101 surgeries, in 2009, it rose to 118 and with more than 3 months still to go in 2010, the department has already done 113 heart surgeries – something which was thought impossible at the medical institute, a few years ago.

“With a 98 percent success rate, most of the beneficiaries are poor patients from remote valley’s; some of whom were diagnosed with a heart disease more than a decade ago,” says Mehta.

“We are still clearing the backlog,” adds Pathania, as he struggles with listing operation dates to clear the pending four month long waiting list.

Given the success rate of heart surgeries performed, more and more patients from richer sections on full payments are coming forward to avail the treatment available.

Whereas a coronary by-pass surgery costs about Rs 1 lakh, a single valve replacement surgery costs Rs 1.25 lakhs and a double valve surgery costs Rs 1.75 lakhs.

No, not just heart surgeries, say’s Pathania, “we are doing the complete spectrum of CTVS surgeries, which include vascular surgeries as well as thoracic surgeries – be it lung surgeries or surgeries of the food pipe. We also provide critical support in many complicated spine surgeries, he adds.

Mehta says, “presently we are able to do heart surgeries on children who weigh at least 8 Kgs. We intend to take up more challenging surgeries of children with lesser weights. Elsewhere, specialized heart surgery centers in the private sector do operate upon even 10 day old babies.”

With a dedicated team of four consultants and two anesthetists, who are backed up by in house resident doctors and paramedic staff; and over 500 heart surgeries to their credit, the department is emboldened to aspire higher.

We have approached the Medical Council of India’s for permitting us to start super-specialization courses in the medical college, says Pathania. “We have applied for being allowed to offer 2 M.Ch seats in CTVS,” says Pathania.

For making the treatment available in the state capital, the state government has even honoured the heart surgeon team of IGMCH with the Himachal Garuv award.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik has nurtured Hill Post for over a decade. A chequered path had him drift from managing family owned apple orchards, to turning a documentary filmmaker, to a journalist - with India’s leading television networks and newspapers, to boot strapping in founding Start-Ups. He lives in Shimla.

11 Comments

    • Kudos to Ravinder Makhaik for bringing this amazing and encouraging piece of news to My Himachal’s audience worldwide. This is really great and exemplary to know how people are determined and working hard to serve humanity.

      Keep it up!

      Dr. Bhugol Chandel

  • such a commendable job being done by these surgeons especially for the poor and downtrodden.hats off to such ppl and warm regards

  • Best Yeoman Service…….
    Compared to other states Health Facilities are much better and doing very good service.
    State should give them all kind of Help and support and recruit more doctors who wants to work for the people

  • Keep up the good work, Dr. Pathania & team!

    I just hope that, availability of such services is not limited to Shimla. It takes about a day for someone to visit Shimla from areas like Chamba.

    Such services should also be made available somewhere in between, so that patients spend lesser time traveling to avail their services.

  • What a noble job! Let us commend all these doctors for their much required dedication and hard work. Their efforts are very good examples of serving humanity. It is a very good start. We hope public and government support these professionals and their ideas. Public should plead with the government and their local leaders to bring these much needed services closer to people in villages. The poor people residing in far flung areas of Himachal Pradesh don’t have to travel to Shimla for these services.

    Cost of health care is going out of hand globally. It is very hard for most of the people to afford cost of health care these days. Just first strike of illness can bring misery for rest of one’s life. One may end up by spending savings of lifetime or selling house and land. Even, with a high price tag, the quality of health care is deteriorating. Additionally, a new disease, “RICHMANIA” the greed to become rich overnight and without doing any work among health professionals is becoming epidemic. It is deplorable and disgusting to find that these highly paid professionals are accepting bribes to the tune of Rs 100-1000 from common person and at the same time dancing at the whim and fancies of pharmaceutical companies promoting their substandard products which lack efficacy. This behavior where health professional are knowingly promoting placebo products and playing with lives of patients is criminal. It is hard to believe how they are becoming parasite and sucking lives of already anemic patients. It is hard to imagine what would be the fate of common person, if this disease is continued to spread in its present form and speed.
    An unnecessary procedure, without necessity and following acceptable international protocols, is another area of concern. It is not uncommon to hear that someone’s kidney was removed without any established diagnosis for that disease. Don’t forget to take a second opinion from a different doctor or hospital, in case if you have time and a HI-FI treatment in the form of surgery or investigation is suggested to you, your family member or a relative.

    Let us give a big hand of applause to these hard working doctors and do everything possible to support their mission and fulfill their dreams. If we get together and spread word of our support for such efforts in the society, it would definitely make a difference. Let us contact our leaders back home via mail, phone or e-mail and talk with them of these examples of efforts and ask them to provide funds to have these kinds of facilities at least at every district level hospital in Himachal Pradesh.

  • Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement . This is what keeps us going inspite of all odds .
    Feel free to ask anything regarding Patients in need of cardiac surgery.
    My E mail ID is [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.