article was written by Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, for ' Sai
Spandan'- an offering to Bhagawan on His 75th Birthday. Dr
Valluvan Jeevanandam graduated medical school from Columbia
University in NY at the top of the class. Had surgical training
also at Columbia University. Became director of the heart
transplant program at Temple University in 1992 and stayed
there until 1998. The program was the largest in the US for
three of those years. He has since moved to University of
Chicago where he is the Chief of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
and Director of Heart Transplant and Mechanical Assist Device.
Has the distinction of being the youngest CT surgery chief
in the US of any major institution.
In this article, Dr. Jeevanandam recounts his experiences
of working in SSSIHMS.
SSSIHMS - BEST AMONG THE BEST
often get asked what type of hospital is the Sri Sathya Sai
Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS)? Can the equipment
match those in advanced centers around the world? What is
the quality of the personnel working there? Are they actually
doing that many cases? Is the medical care truly free? After
being given the privilege and honor of working at the SSSIHMS
many times, my answer to all those questions is unequivocal
- not only is patient care absolutely superb, but the institution
is unmatched by any other in the world.
It has the most advanced equipment available - there is barely
any difference between working in the operating rooms at Puttaparthi
or in any one in the United States. The health care professionals
are also unique - most do not have specialized training in
their particular field of work. They are a few chosen, very
intelligent, devoted students Swami had assigned particular
tasks to - and then they received "on the job training."
For example, an economics student becomes a perfusionist.
Incredibly, they are the best support staff I have ever worked
with. They are extremely knowledgeable and devoted to their
jobs. They are there for the love of Swami - and it is clearly
reflected by their actions and work ethic.
SSSIHMS has the biggest advantage over all other institutions
- the chief administrator is God himself. How can other institutions
match up to that type of compassionate leadership? In the
US, we often have to justify what we do for patients. Between
the insurance companies and hospitals, financial considerations
can often take precedent over patient care. At SSSIHMS, Swami
asks that we do our best - He takes care of all the other
details. Patient care is paramount as each person is given
the most advanced care possible. We have done homograft valves
(human valves that are transplanted to replace a patients
diseased valve), multiple valves and coronary artery bypass
using complete arterial grafts. These are procedures done
in only one or two centres in India and in fewer than 10%
of all hospitals around the world. With Swami's grace, we
are able to extend His helping hand and deliver the best care
to some of the poorest people in the country. Not only is
the care advanced, it is delivered with compassion and understanding.
Swami's grace and love is always present. Melodious Bhajans
permeate the air. The patients can sense the peaceful bliss.
They recover remarkably fast and with few complications. For
instance, intravenous lines that are usually required for
at least a week are removed within 2 days.
a personal note, being permitted to work at SSSIHMS has changed
my outlook on life tremendously. Swami has a great way of
using us to help humanity, but equally using His guiding Hand
to shape our character. For instance, early in my career,
before I was acquainted with Swami's teachings, I considered
myself intelligent, technically gifted, and able to save patients
who were practically dead.
My ego swelled
as I began to think that my actions were saving patients lives.
One can develop quite a "power" complex. After discovering
and being in the presence of Swami, I have realized that this
is merely an illusion. An incident during my second visit
to SSIHMS really brought this to light. There was one case
remaining for the day. It was getting late and the staff wanted
to have an educational meeting. Being full of ego, I claimed
that the case would be done in 2 hours as I was going to take
over. It was a relatively simple case and I could not foresee
any difficulties. Needless to say, I was taught a very valuable
lesson. The patient developed complications and a short case
became a 5-hour exhausting ordeal. The patient ultimately
did well but after a struggle. The next day during Darshan,
my mind was obsessed with all the difficulties of that case.
Swami came over and did not say a word. He just looked at
me with a twinkle in his eye and smiled. From that moment,
I realised that it was not my ability or talent or intellect.
Each one of us put on earth by Swami has a role He has determined
for us - we are just instruments of God. With that one episode,
Swami sucked out a large amount of my bloated ego. Everything
we accomplish is because Swami, in His infinite compassion,
wills it so. We have to do our best; the rest is in His hands.
That experience humbled me and made me grow up in a hurry.
I realize it is not my abilities but rather His Will. Everyday
now, I spiritually give Him my patients and He takes care
of them - I am an extension of His Hands and just do the duty
that Swami has put me on this earth for.
If my experiences are any indication, SSSIHMS is truly a
Temple of Healing. Not only is there treatment for the patient,
but there is also the 'Presence' of the Caregiver as well.
Not only is there the repairing of the body, but also that
of the mind and spirit. SSSIHMS supplies the best care because
it is Swami's care - His selfless love and compassion for
humanity. This makes SSSIHMS unrivalled in the entire world.