Volume 8 - Issue 09
July 2011
Other Articles
Posted on: July 06, 2011


A Medical Breakthrough Transforms More Than A Life


There are many things in life that stare at you in the face, but it takes divine intervention to realise their importance in your life.

Here’s a story of a truck driver who drove by Puttaparthi many times, but knew little what role Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the ‘magnificent pink palace’ would play in bringing a healthy turnaround in his life.

C. Gopal was clueless about where his medical condition was taking him till his friends guided him to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences at Prasanthigram. The timely intervention saved his life, and in the process, also created a medical first for its Urology department – the performing of a bilateral ureterocalicostomy which has not yet been reported in medical literature.

How did this miracle happen? Let’s trace the story back to the road travelled by Gopal over many years - the road that took him from Bengaluru to Puttaparthi several times, and finally brought him ‘home’ to a cure and happiness.


Forty one-year-old truck driver Gopal hails from Karipattiveli in Salem district of Tamil Nadu. He recalls, “I was feeling weak and having constant bouts of fever and pain in the loins. So I was admitted to a hospital in Salem. I was operated upon four times for urology related issues. I got many tests done like scans, blood and urine tests and CT scans. But despite these, I was kept in the dark as to what my problem was. The doctors would just not say what was wrong with me.  Their diagnoses kept differing; if it was kidney stones one day, then it was appendicitis the next. Five months passed, still no firm diagnosis had been made. I decided to go to another hospital and get the scans done again. There, the doctor told me that there were some problems with my kidneys. This was way back in May 2009.”

Disillusioned with Slow and Delayed Diagnosis

Gopal certainly was at his wit's end. He was not getting better and the treatment was causing him a huge financial drain. His profession as a truck driver fetched him just Rs. 8,000 a month. The amount went in taking care of his  wife and three children. He had spent Rs. 2.5 lakhs (US $ 5600) and doctors told him further surgery would cost him Rs. 7 lakhs (US $ 15700). He had already taken a loan; where would he get the rest of the money from?

Even after spending a fortune nobody told Gopal was his problem really was; but once he stepped inside SSSIHMS his life changed for the better forever.

It was during this period that some of Gopal’s friends told him of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s hospital at Puttaparthi that provides quality treatment and healthcare for all those in need, and most importantly absolutely free of charge. “I immediately remembered the ‘pink palace’ I had seen on many of my road trips to and from Puttaparthi. I was a little hesitant initially but my friend persuaded me and so I decided to go there, though it took a while for the doctors to discharge me from hospital (in Tamil Nadu),” he says.

The Turning Point - Quality Care Makes a Difference

Gopal came to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram on July 6, 2009. He remembers the day very clearly. Once registration was over and he got his card, his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. He began to feel dizzy and collapsed trying to hold onto his wife Jayanthi’s arm. Jayanthi was flustered and did not know what to do as she could only speak Tamil. A passing doctor came to their rescue. Gopal was taken to the Urology ward and administered immediate treatment. The doctors found that he had urine blockage; they removed the obstruction and conducted other tests. After this Gopal was asked to return after a month.

The urologists, after going through Gopal’s test reports, found that apart from obstruction in both the ureters, stents had been placed in both of them to allow passage of urine, but that did not help him much.

Watch Dr. Sivanandan of the Department of Urology explain the peculiar nature of Gopal's problem


  kidney kidney
Mr. Prashant Kulkarni explains how there was an
obstruction in both the ureters

Dr. Prashant Kulkarni of the Department of Urology, SSSIHMS-PG, elaborates: “Stent means a tube that is placed from the kidney to the bladder through which the urine drains. But stents are only temporary measures; a person cannot live his entire life on them. After going through Gopal’s reports, we found that he had some pathology of obstructive uropathy, that is, a block in the flow of urine in the kidney region which was causing a problem in the functioning of the kidneys. The right kidney, however, was functioning lesser than the left. After going through his reports, we knew it was going to be a challenging surgery for us.”

A Path-breaking Surgery for Gopal and the Doctors' Team

After discussions, the Department of Urology’s team of surgeons decided to go in for ureterocalicostomy. He was first operated on his right kidney on October 27, 2009 and then on his left in January 2010.

Now what is ureterocalicostomy and how would it help Gopal? According to the surgeons of Baba's hospital, "Simply put, in an ureterocalicostomy, the ureters that drain the urine into the urinary bladder are cut below the block and then reattached to the bottom of the kidneys so that urine can flow directly from the bottom of the kidneys into the bladder by-passing the blocks.”

Watch Dr. Prashant share why it is special to work in Baba's Hospital

With the help of X-rays Dr. Prashant explains how they went about the surgeries in a phased manner so that the patient was put
to minimum inconvenience.

Ureterocalicostomy in itself is not rare, according to Dr. Prashant. “It is normally considered as a salvage procedure,” he adds and continues, “Which means that whenever primary procedures fail, then this is employed. But in Gopal, due to the complexity of the case, we first conducted the ureterocalicostomy on the right side and after stabilising it, decided to do the same on the left kidney as well. After both procedures, both his kidneys are functioning well and he is able to do his routine activities.”

Dr. Prashant then explains why the case was one-of-its-kind. “Though ureterocalicostomy is not an uncommon procedure, we have not found any case report of a bilateral ureterocalicostomy, i.e., the problem being there on both the kidneys. That makes Gopal’s case truly unique.”

Gopal was discharged on February 2, 2010 and with treatment over a period of six months, life had returned almost to normal.

A Miracle in More Ways Than One

Gopal attributes his recovery to the efficient care of the doctors and the loving grace of Bhagawan Baba. Recollecting his days in the hospitals, he says,

“As soon as I entered the hospital, I could feel faith and confidence rising in me. I was sure I would be alright. Once treatment began, I noticed the difference too. At other hospitals, whenever I used to ask for updates on my condition, I never got any proper answers. But at SSSIHMS, I received the updates in five days and doctors were very forthcoming with all the information. This boosted my confidence to a large degree”.

“Before both the operations, I had Baba’s darshan. Just by looking at Him, I could feel His grace upon me and my family. As for the doctors and hospital staff, they were with me at every step. They visited me at regular intervals and at many times during the day. The same goes for the nurses and sevadals.”

For the doctors too, Bhagawan Baba’s blessings guided them at every stage. Says Dr. Prashant, “It was a challenging case because we did not have knowledge of diagnosis and the only aim of our procedure was to reconstruct the repair. It was challenging on the operating table but both procedures went well. I must admit that the patient did have some problems because of his ‘compromised’ status. He used to get fever in between and had to be re-admitted very frequently. But when you look at the results, I think these are very negligible things and we are all very happy today seeing him tube-free, with both his kidneys functioning well. For this, we are very thankful to Swami, our team of doctors (Dr. Sivanandan, Dr. Murthy, Dr. Dilip Patel, the HoD, and Dr. H.S. Bhat who is known as the Father of Indian Urology) for giving us the opportunity to be of help to the patient.”

Dr. Prashant is not only grateful to his mentors and God but also to the patient! He feels every doctor must
offer their gratitude to their patients too for allowing them to operate on their bodies.


From left to right: Dr. Narasimha Murthy, Dr. Prashant Kulkarni and Dr. Sivanandan from the Department of Urology, SSSSIHMS-PG.

[Dr. Bhat passed away on November 2010.  We will soon be carrying a special tribute to his life of dedication.] 

Dr. Sivanandan of the Department of Urology adds: “We took great care to ensure that the operation was successful. What is special here at SSSIHMS, I feel, is Swami’s presence everywhere. We call it His omnipresence. It is all His grace and His doing. We are just actors and He is the Director.”

Gopal was also relieved of the financial burden of the treatment. “Nowadays medical care is very expensive. Gopal would have easily spent Rs. 1.5 to 2 lakh for each procedure. Here at SSSIHMS, surgery, hospital stay, medicine and even food comes free of cost. This is the greatest service Swami’s hospital provides,” says Dr. Murthy of the Department of Urology.

The Way Forward for Gopal and Many Others

The doctors were certain that Gopal would be able to return to his profession in less than a year. “Baba, Your blessings have worked. As long as I am alive, I will not forget what I have received from You. I want to return to Puttaparthi and do service. I cannot do anything else,” he says, his eyes moist with gratitude and love for Baba.

Bhagawan’s grace went further and embraced his family too. “When I was admitted to the Department of Urology, my wife complained of problems in her eyes. On the insistence of the doctors, she got them checked at the Department of Opthalmology where they found that she had cataract. She underwent surgery here and is now doing fine.”

Gopal returned to his village and shared his experience with the others and following this, around 15 people came to Baba's hospital for treatment. “When I came for a review, some people accompanied me. They had different ailments, related to the heart and the urinary tract for which they required treatment. I am so happy that all of them have returned to the village after receiving proper advise and treatment,” says Gopal.

The Sai Volunteers offering their prayers at the Central Prayer Hall of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram

“If someone is unwell and comes to me, I will surely help them in coming to this hospital. If required, I will personally come and drop them here,” he continues.
Gopal enjoys a new lease of life thanks to Swami’s immeasurable blessings and the Sai healthcare system. His experience has also shown him the way forward in life – to help others in every way he can, for the lives of others are also precious as his.

Watch Mr. Gopal narrate how service has now become his life's paramount mission
after having been blessed with a new life in Baba's hospital.

He sums it all succinctly. When asked what he would say if Bhagawan Baba asked how he was feeling, Gopal responded with tears in his eyes: “I will say that Swami, with Your blessings, I am feeling better now. As long as I am alive, my family and I will never forget what we have received from You.”

No wonder Baba's hospitals are referred to by many as 'Temples of Healing and Hope'.

- Radio Sai team
in association with SSSIHMS

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