To the editor of Mumbai Mirror
It is with great anguish, despair and pain that I write this reply. I write this only to dispel some of the mistruths and half-truths that have held the greater part of Mumbai’s social circuit, society hoi polloi and some segments of media intrigued over the last 3 months or so which also include the story published in your esteemed publication – here
I write this, as I now believe that the pen is mightier than the sword (scalpel) in this case. I also do so, on behalf for most of my fellow doctors who have been hung by the media and social gossip channels for no fault of theirs.
Most doctors spend the major part of their early years only studying medical literature, trying to learn as much so that they can be of help to their patients. They unfortunately have little idea of how to handle the big bad world out there. Every action of theirs is put under the microscope, every opinion is debated or viewed at with suspicion, every tiny mistake glorified. In the ever changing field of medicine, even a 99.9% is not good enough. You need a 100% record every single time. How many such professions do you know which are under such pressure?
Every actor is allowed a flop film. Every cricketer a bad outing on the field. Every lawyer a case he loses but not so is the case for doctors.
Have you ever seen the face of a doctor who has lost his patient after a huge struggle trying to save him or her? He looks devastated despite giving his best. Why does one always try and find faults with the doctors? Why is it so difficult to accept that however good a doctor is, he is not god, he can only do that much.
Media today can break or destroy careers just because they are looking for ways of sensationalizing their story. What’s the difference then, I ask, between that mob that attacks a hospital and the media — only that one attacks with bricks and stones and the other with words.
I wish we had better defamation laws in our country which gave back to every doctor wrongly crucified by media his dignity, and respect in a rapid dispersal of the case , where every editor was held accountable for irresponsible journalism by his junior. Isn’t vicarious responsibility accountable in this field?
When I say this in no way do I want to protect those doctors who are in the wrong. By all means take them to task. All I ask for is responsible journalism, please research what you write and carry both sides of every story in an unbiased manner.
In the recent past I was a victim of this malicious society gossip which gave way to articles in the media. This has compelled me to reveal the true story of Mr. Anil Aggarwal the head honco at RNA Corp.
I knew this fine gentleman for the last 2 years or so. About a year back, he sought opinion for a Bariatric Surgery from me. He was with his physician Dr Karthik Shah who looked after his lung. Dr Karthik insisted that if we did not do something quickly for his weight, he was in big trouble.
I recommended that we wait for a bit and get his lung little better so that he would be safe from anesthesia risks. After a lot of waiting, deliberation with him and his family we decided a date for surgery. The surgery went off like a dream. He had stopped smoking as well, and he was discharged from hospital within 2 days. He was a good patient in the follow up phase and continued to lose an excellent amount of weight. Within 6 months he had lost about 45 kgs. He was now healthier and happier with no signs of any complications.
It was on the 24th of Jan this year that he complained of back ache and was admitted under an orthopaedic surgeon at Saifee hospital. He was diagnosed to have a large blood clot in the main vein (SMV) carrying blood from the small intestine. This led him to develop venous gangrene of his small intestine a catastrophic problem with a very low survival rate in the best of hands. He was then, in septic shock with resistance to almost all known antibiotics world over. This condition in no way classifies as a complication or is a result of his Bariatric surgery done 6 months back in any medical book.
I was called in to help with the case as I specialize in Lap surgery and the family trusted my opinion. Mr Aggarwal miraculously improved and was off the ventilator he was even shifted to the room out of the ICU
This is when he was struck down with Hepatitis E — most likely something he had harboured before he came to the hospital but unfortunately became active in the 15 to 20 days since he was admitted. He developed severe jaundice in the following month and eventually succumbed.
The objective here is not to describe Mr. Aggarwal’s medical problems in detail but to bring out some very pertinent questions.
1) Mr Aggarwal’s SMV thrombosis was in no way a result or complication of Bariatric surgery done 6 months back. Why then has the journalist preferred to call it so? Is she more medically qualified to do so than some of the best docs in India and abroad?
2) Why was there no attempt to research the actual facts around the case. Maybe the attempt was to either malign me or Saifee hospital or Bariatric surgery in general. In which case, why did the publisher allow it to go into print without re-checking the facts? When did loose party talk become part of prestigious newspapers?
3) What gives society the moral right to gossip about someone’s health condition without having a clue on what he ails with. If the family prefers to keep quiet about the serious medical condition of their father is it a crime? Or is it fashionable to discuss medical case studies in social parties as there is little else to do? How would these same people react if it was their own mother or father who was callously blamed for fiction rather than fact ?
4) The medical ethics code prohibits a doctor from sharing medical details of a patient to anybody other than a court — so how is a doctor guilty of hiding facts if he or she prefers not to share details to the press.
5) In this case the family stood by their doctors and even called them ‘Guardian Angels’ at the prayer ceremony. Do you think they would accord this status to someone who they thought had led to their father’s death?
To me, all this is because poor doctors today, however famous they maybe are sitting ducks with no voice in support.
I wish this same journalist, had had an entirely different take on this case which even then would have interested her readers
- She could have written about the fight this man put up to defy all odds to stay alive for his loved ones
- The never ending prayers from the family which forced god to keep him alive longer
- The round the clock medical vigil he received to keep him alive even if it was for that one extra day
- The amount of devotion the 7-day-old-addition to the family — the daughter in law to be –put in and how it made him smile affectionately
- The last three months this man spent with his nearest and closest people, his family, his childhood friends, his last birthday celebration in the hospital, his last craving for Pani Puri .
- The day he refused to stop kissing his daughter.
- The days he taught his sons the tricks of his very difficult trade!
- The day he looked longingly in the eyes of the only woman he loved his wife, almost as if to say — don’t worry I shall always be around.
- How he even in his sick state admonished a junior doc for being not so caring by saying ‘ be careful I am the boss
- The strength his wife showed to keep her kids glued in the most difficult 3 months of her life.
The family was dignity and class personified, both so rare in these days. Ask anybody from Saifee Hospital — from doc to administrator to ward boy or liftman and they shall tell you.
3 months back I thought this would be like any rich family, today I stand corrected. I would be happy to be part of this family. The kids are grounded, each having his or her own uniqueness. Bottom line they love each other and will do anything for the other.
I saw Anubhav mature within a matter of seconds at the feet of his father to say ‘ I will handle everything don’t worry!’
I saw in Gokul — a son who was so dedicated to his father’s well-being that he learnt each new drug or medical condition faster than most resident doctors do, gave up his friends just to concentrate on his father.
I saw in Neha a daughter for who her dad was the only Hero she knew. She spared no temple, church, mosque or guru to pray to, to keep her hero alive
In Saranga, I saw a strong woman who grieved only when she was alone so that no one, not her husband neither her kids saw her pain nor was there pillar of strength in these difficult times.
I saw in his childhood friends Gaurang and Deepak friendship which no amount of money can buy.
I saw in Dr Karthik Shah a doctor who went way beyond medical care to offer human care to the family
I wish the journo would have carried this human angle to her story of this Big Business tycoon who died a man satisfied and happy that he had raised a lovely family that stood by him literally till his last breath.
Dear Anil bhai, Lion King, Boss, Hero — I shall always miss your smile, your mischievous wink. RIP