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Dr PK Dash

Rajinder Singh is a 14 year old boy from a remote village in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan — near the Pakistan border. He was brought to our Hospital in a state of collapse, with pulmonary oedema and congestive heart failure - a frightening consequence of neglect of rheumatic mitral stenosis. His father, Parminder Singh, a typical Rajasthani Jat farmer, narrated how he had changed four trains to come from their village to our Hospital in Puttaparthi. When asked why he had chosen this destination and this route, his answer was simple — a patient in their village, who everyone had given up for dead, was given a new lease of life after undergoing treatment in this Hospital. That person directed Parminder to take his son to this abode of God. After an emergency admission, resuscitation and decongestion therapy, Rajinder underwent a mitral valvuloplasty - whereby a balloon was passed across the tight mitral valve and inflated. The results were dramatic. In a matter of a few hours, Rajinder was able to walk in the corridors of the Hospital and went back home, with a repaired heart the day after his admission! Needless to say, the family was very grateful that not a single rupee had been charged for anything.

Syed Basha is a baker from the town of Hindupur about 80km away from Puttaparthi. He was brought to the Critical Care Unit of the Hospital with acute chest pain. He was immediately transferred to the cathlab and an angiogram was performed. It revealed that the left anterior descending artery, the most important blood vessel supplying pure blood to the heart was blocked, right at the origin of the artery. An emergency angioplasty was undertaken and a stent was placed to open up the closing artery. After this, in combination with drug therapy, the patient was saved from a major disaster, which could have even meant death. When Basha was discharged after a brief stay of three days, his family, which included six unmarried children, wept uncontrollably as they realised the magnanimity of the Lord who showered on them a boon in the form of this Hospital, in the backward region of Rayalaseema.

Tales like these are aplenty when we go around the wards. Although we routinely undertake such life saving procedures we do not realise the value of these to the patient. It is when the patient takes you to the level of God and equates you to Him, that you realise with a shock, how much this mode of treatment has made a difference to the patient and his/her family. It is a fallacy again, when we attribute lives being saved to our skill. It is a fact, that if we did not have an institution such as the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, which offers the best possible modern treatment to the poorest of poor, without placing any burden on them, we doctors would be helplessly watching such patients drift away right in front of our own eyes. To be afflicted with heart disease is a calamity. On top of this, when the cost of treatment is made known to the patient and his/ her family, they realise that even if the patient is saved after spending lakhs of rupees as demanded elsewhere, the entire family has to suffer; for in the majority of cases, they are deprived of their savings, or even their few possessions.

A physician or a surgeon reaches the position from where he can help others, after years of hard work and sacrifice. He feels very satisfied the moment this talent and skill is put to the good of others. As we start the introspection about our role in the running of this Hospital, we at once realise what a great chance it is to have been chosen to carry out God's work. Working in a Hospital which believes that medicine is above commercial considerations, is a double blessing. The icing on the cake is the presence of Bhagavan Himself to correct us whenever we go astray. He always insists that a reassuring word and a smiling visage more than cures a patient. When we sit in the Mandir at His Lotus Feet and become charged with His Love, we are given the elixir that makes everyone's life a little more cheerful, a little less complicated, a bit kinder and gentler and a lot less difficult than it was the day before.

We have plenty of charitable institutions in the world. We keep hearing of many free medical camps conducted by philanthropists and in some cases by a few NGOs. We have foundations and think tanks dedicated to the cause of research for curing deadly diseases. But nowhere in the world would we find a Hospital offering tertiary care, free of charge, consistently over the years, with no discrimination of caste, class, creed, region, religion, gender or profession— except in this land of Prashanti. It is said that the entire creation appeared when God Willed it. We do not know about the exact mode of the creation of the Cosmos, but we certainly know that it was God who Willed that this Hospital should get built. We also know that it is He, who is sustaining this, with His ever-loving guidance and everlasting energy.

(The names of the patients have been changed to maintain their confidentiality.)

Dr PK Dash, MD DM, graduated from Orissa, India and finished his post graduation in General Medicine and Post Doctoral course in Cardiology from SCB Medical College Cuttack. He finished his fellowship in Interventional Cardiology from Breach Candy Hospital, Bombay. After serving in various hospitals in India he has been heading the Department of Cardiology in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences Puttaparthi for the past four years.