Sunday, June 24, 2007

The 'Master' Surgeon

Caesarean operations hardly make news. But suddenly one such procedure that was conducted four months ago is in the headlines.

The scene of the operation was Mathi Surgical and Maternity Hospital, Manaparai, Trichy, Tamil Nadu. The theatre was ready, nurses on their toes, the patient was on the table, Dr. Murugesan and his wife Dr. Gandhimathi, owners of the hospital were waiting, and a bit oddly, a video camera was there to record the proceedings.

And in walks the son of the owners, Master Dhileepan, all of 15 and a high school student. He bends over the patient who is his own cousin, goes through with the operation and takes out the baby! All recorded by the video camera. At least this is what the media is saying.

The world would never have known about this unusual operation but for the proud father, Dr. Murugasan. He wanted everyone to know how clever his son was. In fact, the whole exercise was, reportedly, to get the boy into the Guinness Book of World Records. Dr. Murugesan showed the video of the surgery at a recent meeting of the local chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

There were immediate protests and the story was suddenly all over the media. Dr. Murugesan was quick to explain that he did the operation and his son only watched.

Even if that were true, questions remain. Was it proper to allow a minor boy to be present in the theatre to watch a Caesarean procedure? As The New Indian Express commented editorially, “… the only place for a fifteen-year-old in an operation theatre is on the operating table as patient”. Another question is, if it was an ordinary Caesarean section performed by Dr. Murugesan, what was so great about it to be taped and shown to other doctors?

The District Administration has ordered an enquiry into the incident. The report should be out soon. In the meantime, Malayala Manorama has come out with a photograph of the 20 year old woman who underwent the operation carrying the baby. Both look fine.

This incident reminds me of a story that I read somewhere long ago. An American was filling in a form for a government job. He got stuck at the question ‘Are you a natural born U.S citizen?’ After some hesitation he answered, ‘No, by Caesarean section’.


Also see: Medicine men of Olavipe

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