My Tribute to Kalaignar

Herewith, I share my tribute to Kalaignar which I expressed at a meeting organised by a Doctors’ forum on 26/9/2018.

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Dr. K. V. Thiruvengadam Award for Health Care 2017

The prestigious “Dr. K. V. Thiruvengadam Award for Health Care 2017″ was conferred on Dr. M.K. Mani, well known Nephrologist, Apollo Hospitals, by the Rotary Club of Madras East (RCME) and Kauvery Hospital. Dr. Aravindan Selvaraj, ED, Kauvery Hospital presented the award to Dr. M.K. Mani in the presence of Padma Shri Dr. K. V. Thiruvengadam.

Launch of a patient support group for Brachial Plexus Injury

Rare surgery performed on a road accident survivor

A rare spinal cord surgery was recently performed on a road accident survivor at Kauvery hospital, Mylapore. Mr. Ramesh, a 33 year old man from Coimbatore, sustained an injury to his left arm in a road traffic accident in 2013. He was diagnosed to have traumatic Brachial Plexus injuries. The Brachial Plexus is the nerve group that provides nerve supply to the entire arm. Dr. G. Balamurali, Consultant Neuro-Spine Surgeon at Kauvery hospital performed DREZ surgery, a nine hour long meticulous procedure in the cervical spinal cord on the 18th September 2017.

Mr. Kiran from Bangalore sustained a similar Brachial Plexus avulsion injury from a road accident and suffered severe pain for 14 long years. He was treated by this procedure, following which he has complete pain relief. Mr. Ananthana sustained a crush injury and was suffering with severe neuropathic pain for 27 years, which did not respond to any medical treatment. He had total pain relief following surgery. Mr. Mohammed, from Hosur, was involved in a road accident and suffered years of pain before this surgery gave him relief.

Addressing the media, Dr. G. Balamurali, consultant Neuro-Spine surgeon at Kauvery Hospital said, “There are several hundred patients with such injuries, who are unaware of the treatment options for brachial plexus injuries that are available. The most common causes of this condition are automobile injury and fall from height. 30-40% of patients with these injuries develop severe pain in the whole limb, either due to spinal cord damage or avulsion of nerve roots from the spinal cord. The pain is typically burning, stabbing, pricking, electric shock like, sharp and continuous. The pain can get worse at times and some patients may develop suicidal thoughts because they are unable to cope with pain. Pain can be aggravated just by talking, movement of any body part, breeze from fan, noise from the surroundings or contact with water while bathing. Some patients are house bound for 15-20 years and have serious psychological issues. They lose their jobs, families, children, friends and social contact.”

He adds, “This specific brachial plexus surgery is performed by very few surgeons in India. Procedures such as nerve grafts to enable movement have been done over years but this particular procedure is rare. This is a high-risk neuro spine surgery, which is technically demanding. Serious side effects like paralysis are possible if the procedure is not done by adequately trained personnel. A team of anesthetist, neurologist and neurophysiologist perform this procedure, which lasts about 8-10 hours. Conditions that involve severe pain from spinal cord injury, cancer pain, post herpetic pain and spasticity from cerebral palsy may all be treated in a similar manner.” We have also performed this surgery on 2 patients with spinal cord injuries and the pain relief has been significant.”

Dr. Aravindan Executive Director of Kauvery Hospital said, “There are a growing number of patients with traumatic Brachial Plexus injury. However, the awareness about the treatment options for Brachial Plexus avulsion injury is lacking here. In India, this holds good for any rare medical problem whereas in the western world there are support groups led by patients themselves. Kauvery Hospital will now facilitate the launch of a patient support group (www.bpisupportgroup.com) as a CSR activity to bring together people with Brachial Plexus Injury.”

“This group will consist predominantly of patients and also some specialists as advisors. People who have suffered from this condition and have undergone treatment will be able to support and guide those who develop a new injury. The caregivers will also need support and the aim is to have a peer support group who can guide them too, apart from the patients. Kauvery hospital will manage this website for a year and then hand it over to a committee that will be formed by the patient group. We will continue to extend all possible support thereafter, wherever required. This will be a big resource site for patients and there is scope for future expansion in terms of financial support for the underprivileged” he added.

Grand Launch at Annanagar!

Kauvery Hospitals has entered the clinic chain fray with the launch of its first neighborhood clinic at Anna Nagar. The Kauvery medical center at Anna Nagar was inaugurated today by Ms.Suhasini Mani Rathnam. During the inauguration, Ms. Suhasini Mani Rathnam spoke at length about how neighborhood clinics add value to healthcare by being easily accessible and how they help in identifying serious illnesses in patient groups who don’t immediately visit hospitals for ailments. The out-patient unit of Kauvery medical center at Anna-Nagar is a state-of-the-art facility designed to diagnose and treat illnesses before they turn into health crisis. The clinic boasts of facilities like a dedicated pharmacy, Ultra-sound scan, Color Doppler, Echocardiogram, Digital X-Ray, Digital ECG, State-of-the-art laboratory and Health check up.

With friendly family-centric doctors and staff, Kauvery medical center aims to bring quality healthcare to Anna-Nagar and more localities in Chennai in the near future. With various specialties like General medicine, Diabetology, Geriatric medicine, Cardiology, Orthopedics, Vascular Surgery, Nephrology & Urology, Gastroenterology, Mother & Child Health, ENT, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Kauvery Medical Centres in Anna Nagar and locations across Chennai will be premier clinics catering to multiple neighborhoods across the city.

City Gynaecologist Honoured

City obstetrician and gynaecologist Jaishree Gajaraj was conferred the Dr. K. V. Thiruvengadam Award for Health Care 2016, on Wednesday. The award, given by the Rotary Club of Madras East and Kauvery Hospital, recognised Dr. Gajaraj’s surgical skills, her academic brilliance, her mentoring as well as leadership, the citation of the award said. Dr. Gajaraj said that apart from being honoured and privileged on receiving the award, she saw it as a message that she had many more things to do in improving healthcare.

Aravindan Selvaraj, executive director of Kauvery Hospital, said the award honoured not just her delivery of healthcare but also her teaching of the next generation.

Prof. Thiruvengadam commended Dr. Gajaraj’s work and energy. Chief guest of the function P. Murari, former secretary to the President of India, spoke of his personal experiences with Prof. Thiruvengadam.

State Level Nursing Seminar

State Level Nursing Seminar on “Hospital Infection Control Practices” was held on August 27, 2016 at Kauvery Hospital, Chennai. This seminar was organized in association with “The Tamil Nadu Nurses and Midwives Council”. TNNMC Approved CNE Accreditation for 5 credit hours. 110 participants from in and around Chennai took part in the seminar. The sessions included topics like SSI Reduction, HIC Bundles, Bio-Medical Waste Management – New Guidelines and Role of HIC Nurse.

The Dhanvanthri Project by Rotary: Srilanka and the War-ravaged Community

The initiation

The welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils has been very close to my heart since my childhood. That was way back in the 1980s, when large number of Sri Lankan Tamils had to flee their homeland. They reached the shores of several countries as refugees across the globe, most of them to Tamil Nadu in India.I have listened to the heartrending saga of tribulations and trauma from the refugees who sought asylum in Trichy, my hometown.The tragic exodus was triggered by what was to become a terrible 25 plus-year old civil war in Sri Lanka. It was brought to an end by a military campaign in 2009.

When I went to London to pursue postgraduate training in orthopedics, I stayed at the homes of Sri Lankan Tamils, and we used to spend several nights discussing possible solution to their problems – military versus political.

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I returned to India in 2011, after a 15-year stay in London.  I have since been actively associated with the Rotary International, as a member of the Rotary Club of Madras East, a part of RI District 3230. Project Dhanvanthri, a noble initiative of RI District 3230, under the leadership of PDG Sampathkumar and Chairmanship of PP Dhansekar, has been making significant improvements in the lives of people of North and Eastern Srilanka.

When I came to know about the Project, I enrolled myself to be part of the Dhanvanthri Team and visited Sri Lanka in February 2016, along with PDG Sampathkumar, PP Dhansekar, PP Ravi Ram, PP Govind Ram, PP Thanigaivelan, Rtn Sundaram and Mrs. Sundaram.

The visit to Srilanka

We attended in Colombo a two-daySilver Jubilee District Conference of the Rotary Clubs of Sri Lanka and Maldives. There was a very intense panel discussion on lot of issues faced by postwar Sri Lanka, like amendments to the Constitution, national government, national identity and strategies of addressing the root cause of the ethnic conflict.srilanka2

The conference was attended by many young Tamil Rotarians from the North and the Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, as well as from NuwaraEliya, the town in the hill country of the central province. All the members of the conference committee surprised us by turning up for the conference dinner, sporting Sarong,the Sri Lankan traditional dress.

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The images

On the third day of our visit, we set off to Northern Sri Lanka by train. I never thought that I will be able to visit Jaffna in my lifetime.  The rail track beyond Anuradhapura, devastated by war, has been restored after 25 years by the Indian Railways.

IMG-20160323-WA0013The scenery was breathtaking: we were able to see the enormous potential of developing tourism as an industryin the North, like in the Southern Srilanka. We reached Jaffna by lunchtime, and visited later the world famous Jaffna Public Library. It was shockingly the target of attack during the conflict, and was bombed and burnt.A huge collection of priceless books and ancient palm leaf manuscripts were destroyed and lost during the war.

At the Jaffna Library, we met Mr. Sivalingam, MP from the Northern Province. He felt sad that there has been no improvement in the lives of commonTamils in the eight-year postwar period. So many of them still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and there is not enough specialists to treat them.

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We visited Jaffna University and the Jaffna Fort as well. In the evening, we participated in the meeting of the Rotary Club of Nallur, Jaffna, and exchanged the flags. It was really touching to see so many young people becoming members of Rotary social service to work for the community.

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Later in the evening, we discussed the Sri Lankan Tamil community’s proposal to the Government, enlisting amendments for the new Constitution. The young Jaffna Rotarians were all appreciative of the secular, democratic and pluralistic Indian Constitution, enshrining equal rights to all its citizens.

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We analysed the root cause of the conflict and all of us hope fervently that the new Constitution would ensure its Tamil citizens’ equal rights and absorb them into the mainstream of the society.

The fourth day of our visit coincided with the birthday of Rtn Sundaram, a member of our team. We started the day offering prayers at the temples of Jaffna, including the famous Nallur Murugan temple. Then, we travelled to Mullaitivu, where the final stages of the war had unfolded the darkest moments of Sri Lankan history.

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We visited the vocational training centre there, which trains more than 100 students in various disciplines. RI District 3230 has been offering cash allowance to these students to cover the costs of conveyance and lunch; many of them were orphaned by the terrible war. The allowance for the month of February was sponsored by Rtn Sundaram.  I couldn’t control my tears when I interacted with these students all in late teens: they had witnessed the tragic moments of the war and now facing an uncertain future, because of the lack of economic opportunities.

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The war memorial

There is, in the site of the last stages of the war, a war memorial has been erected, which is nothing but a jingoistic display of supremacy of the majority and military might.  This concrete structure of insensitivity will always stand in the way of winning hearts and minds of already battered and bruised community. None of us wanted to take a photo in front of the repulsive war memorial.

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The plight of women

We returned to Kilinochchi in the evening to attend the Rotary meeting. The lone woman Rotarian was a Sinhalese counselor. She narrated how overwhelming her work has been: the majority of the households there are left with only women; their men of the age group 20-50 were all killed in the war. The Indian Government has made significant efforts to restore the physical infrastructure. But, restoration of the social fabric and reconciliation has to come from within.

The chasm between works ‘done’ and ‘to be done’

On the final day of our visit, we distributed devices like wheel chair, crutches and bicycles to the devastated victims of war. Among the recipients was an 11-year old boy, who lost both his legs in the war. A whole generation has been lost in the war and we were humbled by the realization that Project Dhanvanthri is a small gesture to restore the civil society in Northern Sri Lanka.

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With a heavy heart and many unanswered troubling questions, we got onto the train back to Colombo and then flew to Chennai. Sure, I will go again to Sri Lanka shortly to play my own part, however small it might be, towards the reconciliation and rehabilitation of the Tamils there; we in the mainland Tamil Nadu are connected to them by a strong emotional, cultural and social umbilical cord.

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The visit also reaffirmed my belief that the Rotary is the single greatest service organization in the world and kudos to the RI District 3230 for the Project Dhanvanthri in Srilanka

Flying miles away to get the best treatment even for acute injuries

IMG-20160213-WA006Chennai in India has emerged as the medical tourism capital of the world. Usually, patients travel to Chennai for treatment of elective procedures like Joint replacement, cardiac by pass surgery etc. But, last month, we were surprised to receive 54 year old Mrs Sherifa Ali Salim who flew all the way from Tanzania with acute fracture of both bones of right leg for treatment at our kauvery hospital. She was back on her feet within a week of surgery and here she is seen smiling with her wonderful daughters in the photograph taken on the day of flying back to her home country, Tanzania.