Following is the top ten surgeon in India, in the five most common surgical specialities: heart, orthopaedic, neurosurgery, ophthalmic surgery and reconstructive surgery from HindustanTimes article.

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NEUROSURGERY
Dr Vipul Gupta, 41, Head, Neuro-intervention, Medanta – The Medicity

Vipul Gupta watched his 33-year-old brother die of a malignant tumour in the brain eight years ago. “We knew it was hopeless but we went all the way. He was operated on thrice, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in India and Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. That’s when I realised that even when the chips are down, the family does not give up, so you have to give it your best,” says the Delhi-based Gupta. He’s a little embarrassed about the emotional outpouring. “Surgeons can’t be emotional, it won’t help the patient on the table. You have to be calm and think clearly,” he says. At 41, Gupta heads neuro-intervention at Medanta – the Medicity, where he moved after doing his MBBS from Delhi’s Maulana Azad Medial College in 1996 and training in neuro-radiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for three years. “I’m out-doorsy and enjoy swimming, rafting and rock-climbing. I broke my knees twice in school. The operation and forced bed-rest for six months slowed me down, forcing me to study which helped me crack the MBBS easily,” he laughs.

Dr Deepak Agrawal, 40, Associate professor, Neurosurgery, AIIMS
He’s the guy at the frontier, treating accident victims at the AIIMS Trauma Centre, best known for treating some of the bloodiest and most bizarre accident cases in the country. “Most accident victims we get are people with severe head or spinal injuries that are often fatal. It does get you down, but nothing can beat the high of seeing a patient everyone including your colleagues had given up on, walk into your clinic for a follow-up. That’s when you know that miracles do happen,” says Dr Agrawal. Agrawal did his MBBS at the University College of Medical Science in 1994 – where he met his onco-surgeon wife Swati – and his training in neurosurgery at AIIMS. “My professional high was being awarded the ‘Young Neurosurgeon of the Year’ Award by the American Congress of Neurosurgeons in 2008. The personal one was my daughter Ayushi, who is five,” he says. His father Dr Ved Prakash was also a neurosurgeon at AIIMS, so Agrawal’s becoming a surgeon was almost pre-determined. “I like to catch up on my emails before breakfast, so I begin work at 5.30 am. I leave home at 7.30, doing rounds of the ward for three hours, which is followed by surgeries that usually go on till 7. Then come the evening rounds, which finish at 9 pm. Add to this administrative work, teaching and writing and correcting research papers, and my day never seems to end,” says Agrawal.

OPHTHALMIC SURGERY
Sri Ganesh, 44, Eye surgeon and chairman, Nethradhama Hospital, Bangalore

Bangalore residents are used to seeing Dr Sri Ganesh zooming down the streets to his farm on his Suzuki Intruder, which he exchanges for his Audi Q7 or BMW 5-Series when he visits the hospitals he set up. “Both my grandmas were blinded with cataract, one because of a botched up surgery. I think seeing them faltering around the house made me decide I wanted to do all I could to help people see,” says the 44-year-old. Eye surgery techniques have become much safer now. “Back then, there were no intraocular lenses (artificial lenses put inside the eye in place of the natural ones) and the failure rate of a simple cataract surgery was 30 per cent, largely due to infection. Now, less than 0.1 per cent cataract and vision-correction surgeries have complications,” he says. Sri Ganesh met his wife Sumanshree at a paratrooping camp in Agra. He was 17, she was 16. “Someone stole my things and she was very sweet,” he says. They married six years later, in 1990, after Sri Ganesh did his MBBS. The couple have three children, Supriya, Sushant and Skanda. Apart from running six hospitals – four in Bangalore, one in Mysore and one in Mangalore – Sri Ganesh runs a 90-bedded charitable hospital in Padmanabhanagar that does 8,000 free cataract surgeries a year.

Dr Mahipal S Sachdev, 52, Centre for Sight Group of Hospitals

Mahipal S Sachdev, eye surgeon to the rich and powerful, never invests in anything but health. “My last investment was Harshad Mehta and I burnt my fingers there,” says Dr Sachdev. His investments in healthcare – time, energy and money – have shown better results. Sachdev was told he was crazy when he quit as associate professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to join the newly-opened Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi in 1996. He was 37. The skeptics got it very, very wrong. Within 15 years of that, he’s running 17 eye hospitals that have become one-stop shops for eye disorders in north India. A year-long fellowship to Georgetown University in Washington DC in ’89-’90 opened his eyes, literally, to the technological imaging and surgical revolution happening in the field of ophthalmology. “I realised less invasive radical surgeries were the way forward, but I needed equipment and trained staff for that. I could not get that in a government set-up. So I set up my own centre, which started in a 8×10 foot room in Safdarjang Enclave in 1996, but we’ve grown a little since then,” he says with obvious pride. Sachdev is arguably the best person to go to for cataract and lasik surgery in India. “This is all I want to do, medicine is in my genes. My mother and brother are doctors, so is my wife Alka and daughters Ritika, 29, and Gitansha, 25,” says Sachdev. Sachdev also has an unexplored, fun side to him. “I did my MBBS from AIIMS, where I was the secretary of the students’ union. We were the ones who threw open Pulse, the students’ festival at AIIMS, to fashion, jam sessions and music. Before that, it was a sporting event. We made it socio-cultural,” he says.

COSMETIC SURGERY
Sunil Choudhary, 42, Aesthetic and Reconstructive surgeon, Max Speciality Hospital, Delhi
Quite like modern day Dr Frankensteins, attaching a hand and replacing chopped fingers with toes is all in a day’s work for reconstructive surgeons. Some, like Sunil Choudhary, who head the aesthetics and reconstruction at Max Speciality Hospital, start a conversation with, “Today, I attached two toes and one finger in the right hand of a 16-year-old who’d lost his fingers in a farming accident. He’ll be able to write now”. This is followed by an MMS of a surgery to fix a congenital defect in which a child’s skull stops expanding naturally, squeezing the brain and making it bulge out of the forehead. Unlike popular perception, silicone implants and other cosmetic procedures make up less than a third of a cosmetic surgeon’s case load. “A lot of what we do is related to reconstruction after cancer surgeries and accident cases, including burns and acid attacks,” he explains. Choudhary grew up in Delhi, went to school in DPS RK Puram and did his MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College, after which he joined the training programme of the UK’s National Health Service.

Dr Shahin Nooreyezdan, 49, Plastic & reconstructive surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo

He insists on giving you a business card. “I’m the only one in the world with this name, so people often get it wrong,” says Dr Shahin Nooreyezdan. There is, however, a little boy called Shahin Sharma, who was called Golu before his grateful parents renamed him after the surgeon who reattached his finger. “It was deeply touching, but also strange. I guess now there’s another person in the world with a very unusual name,” he says. Nooreyezdan grew up in Mumbai, where he lived with his parents in a flat above Russi J Manekshaw, the granddaddy of plastic surgery in India. “Each day, I’d walk past his door on my way home from school and pass this display box with before- and after-surgery pictures, which kept changing every week. I was hooked and decided this was what I wanted to do,” says the Delhi-based Nooreyezdan. He moved to London in 1996, where he worked at St Andrew’s Hospital for three years and met his wife Neda, a British citizen. “When we decided to move back and I went to the Indian High Commission for a visa for my wife, the clerk there said, why are you going? You have a great future here!” he laughs. Most of his work in India is reconstruction. “Unlike other surgeons who can walk in to do the critical part of the surgery, I have to be there from the first incision to the final stitch because what I do is for everyone to see,” says Nooreyezdan, who gets women as young as 19 who need reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. The deft fingers that reconstruct tissues and reattach blood vessels 1.2-1.5 mm in diameter also help him pursue his hobby: collecting and repairing antique clocks. Nooreyezdan has a collection of over 125 pendulum clocks from all over the world, including grandfather clocks from the UK, clocks from ships and railway stations. “It started when I was 17, when I noticed an old, broken, clock at an Irani dhaba. I bought it for R170, got it home and fixed it. I still do it, though I have to pay a guy to wind them up in rotation once a week,” he says. He clearly knows how to wind down.

ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY

Dr Vijay C Bose, 44, Head of orthopaedic surgery, Apollo Chennai
He was part of British orthopaedic surgeon Derek McMinn’s crack team that developed the ‘Birmingham Hip’ – a hip implant that allows people to play contact sports and twist without shouting after a hip transplant – in the late ’90s. Yet what gives Dr Vijay Bose the greatest joy is recognition from his peers. “Three weeks ago, a renowned joint replacement surgeon from the US got his son to our centre for surgery. He’s one of the best in the world and could have done it himself, he could have got it done by the best in his own country, but he still came to India. That’s the quality India offers to the world now,” says Bose. Bose, who joined Apollo Hospital in Chennai in 2000 after six years in Birmingham and Liverpool in the UK, now routinely gets so many patients from overseas that he’s became the face of medical tourism in India for 60 Minutes on CBS News. “I did the first implant in Apollo in 2000 and since then, I have demonstrated the technique across 80 hospitals in India,” says Bose, who did his MBBS from Madras Medical College in 1990. Apart from hip replacement, he does knee and shoulder joint reconstructions.

Dr Suraj Guruv, 36, Orthopaedic surgeon, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai
Dr Suraj Guruv’s last holiday was spent shooting wildlife at Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, but he did not break any laws. Guruv is an amateur photographer and rarely leaves home without his Nikon Digital SLR. “I’m crazy about wildlife photography,” he says. When he’s not shooting, Guruv is fixing damaged hips and knees using minimally invasive bone-conserving surgeries in India that make it possible for people to run, drive and work just as they did before, after hip or knee replacements. Guruv is a Mumbai boy, who grew up in Prabhadevi, went to a neighbourhood school, did his MBBS at Mumbai’s Topiwala National Medical College and worked in Bombay Hospital before going to train in Singapore General Hospital. “I belong to a family of chartered accountants, my dad is one, so is my older brother. So when dad said try something else, I thought, why not?” says Guruv, who aced his entrance exam. “Even though I don’t invest in the markets, I still follow financial news very closely, perhaps because that’s what I’ve grown up hearing,” he says. He returned to India because he wanted to be part of the boom in medical care that India is witnessing. “We now have medical facilities at par with any other in the world, with better care,” he says.

HEART SURGERY
Dr Raja Joshi, 40  Paediatric cardiac surgeon, Apollo
He’s called the ‘bandana guy’ because he wears a bandana instead of a surgical cap while operating. Apart from his training as a paediatric heart surgeon during a five-year stint at Cleveland Clinic in the US, what defines Raja Joshi is his bandana collection. “You have to strike a chord with the kids you’re treating, and a bandana with Dalmatians on it sure helps to break the ice,” says the Delhi-based Joshi who, at 36, became one of the youngest surgeons in the country to set up a paediatric cardiac surgery unit in a major hospital. “My dad was in the air force, I grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot. It was after my class 10 boards that my dad told me there were other ways to earn a living,” he recalls. The idea of being a heart surgeon for children came a year later, after a Doordarshan show on a hole-in-the-heart being fixed. “It was so dramatic, the lights and the surgeons in scrubs, this child being immersed in ice to bring the body temperature down. Suddenly, that was the only thing I wanted to do,” says Joshi. He’s had no regrets. “It’s one of the few surgeries where the patients outlive the surgeons. You won’t believe the number of birthday invites I get. Anyone can do adult heart surgery, paediatric is what separates the boys from the men,” said Joshi. His wife Reena Joshi, 36, is a paediatric anaesthetist who’s helped him introduce innovations such as letting the mother stay with the child in the operation room till he sleeps. “Taking away a baby from the mother makes anxiety levels shoot up. Keeping them together till the baby is anaesthetised improves surgery outcomes,” says Joshi.

Pranav Kandachar, 37, Paediatric heart surgeon, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai
Heart surgery is one of the cleanest surgeries there is, it’s like mathematics. The result is directly related to what you do, there are few surprises,” says Pranav Kandachar, the newest heart surgeon to join Asian Heart Institute’s team of surgeons. “Of course, there are some conditions in which you cannot play god, but in most cases, children can lead active, normal lives after surgery,” he says. After doing his MBBS from Bangalore Medical College in 1997, Kandachar worked at Sion in Mumbai, Apollo Chennai and Colombo, did a year long stint in New Zealand, returned to Bangalore to work at Shirdi Sai Baba Charitable Hospital, and joined the Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai, in January this year. “When you’re training, one institute can’t offer you everything. I’ve trained with the best,” he says. Kandachar describes himself as a nature kind of guy, being big time into hydroponics, a scientific method of growing plants in water – without soil – using mineral nutrient solutions. “I have a virtual vegetable garden in my little balcony, where I grow spinach, beans, cauliflower, coriander and mint. I’m planning to grow strawberries next,” he says. He’s also into ornithology and is part of a nature club that goes birdwatching to sanctuaries at least once a month.

Source: HindustanTimes, April 10

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An excellent story appeared yesterday on NPR that talked about the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or FEHBP – the health insurance program that insures 8 million federal workers, retirees and their families, and members of Congress. Below is the story of a 13-year old daughter of a federal employee who feels blessed to have the FEHBP coverage to pay for the costs of managing her Type 1 diabetes. Do you think other insurance programs in the country should model themselves after FEHBP?

“This is what keeps me alive,” says 13-year-old Toni Bethea, as she picks a tiny glass bottle off the kitchen counter of her home in Washington, D.C. The clear liquid inside is insulin. Toni has Type 1 diabetes.

“Your health is obviously not anything that you should play around with,” says Toni, a high-school freshman. She’s pretty, smiling and stylish — from her bangs angled across her forehead to her sparkly red fingernails.

“You should take it very seriously and when you have a chronic illness like what I have and other kids have, it’s very important that we take care of ourselves because there’s a lot of preventable stuff that can happen to us.”

It helps that her mother, Rhonda Dorsey, has good insurance, which she gets as a federal employee. She’s covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP. It insures 8 million federal workers, retirees and their families — and members of Congress. That federal health insurance program has been held up — by the president, lawmakers and other players in the health care debate — as a model of the kind of good insurance that should be available to all Americans.

Dorsey and others who are covered under FEHBP do report high levels of satisfaction, but it’s not some kind of super insurance. It’s pretty much like most insurance people get through their jobs. Federal workers, too, sometimes complain about the rising costs of their premiums and co-payments and about the hassles of getting care.

The Option To Choose

Toni was five years old when she was first diagnosed with diabetes — as long as she can remember. “At five, I really didn’t know what was going on, but I remember having my mother and my grandfather holding me down to give me shots and prick my fingers. And I was scared, I was confused, and it wasn’t a good time.”

In those early, stressful days of her daughter’s illness, Rhonda belonged to a traditional HMO through FEHBP. She’d take Toni to see an endocrinologist, an eye doctor and one specialist after another. “I’d always have to get a referral. And sometimes I would forget and I’d get to the doctor’s office and it would be a mess. And so I’d be very apologetic and we’d have to call the pediatrician’s office, and it just was a waste of time in my opinion.”

There were limits, too, on the supplies she needed to manage Toni’s diabetes. Sometimes a prescription refill for needles or testing strips would be denied.

So Rhonda switched insurance companies. Her new plan allows her to keep taking her daughter back to the specialists who know her best. “I have the standard plan which means that I pay a little bit more up front,” she explains. “My deductible is a little bit higher, but I don’t have to deal with the referrals. I can go to any doctor.”

Federal employees get a lot of choice. That’s what makes the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program stand out compared to other insurance. In the Washington, D.C. area, there are at least 16 health plans to choose from. Across the nation, according to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, most companies offer only one health plan to their employees, and just one percent of companies offer three or more.

The federal Office of Personnel Management conducts annual negotiations with each health plan to set benefits and rates. That has allowed it to claim some success in constraining cost growth. But last year Blue Cross and Blue Shield — which covers about 60 percent of FEHBP enrollees — increased the premium for its standard option by 13 percent. As a result, the average for all federal plans went up 7 percent. The year before, the annual premium increase was just 2.1 percent.

Toni’s Life Depends On It

For Dorsey, an information specialist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, her insurance through FEHBP has been central to keeping Toni healthy. “In order to live a healthy life with Type 1 diabetes or any kind of chronic illness,” she says, “it’s so important to have good insurance. And I tell Toni all the time how blessed we are because we’ve met a lot of people who don’t have insurance at all.”

Still, even with good insurance, it’s expensive to manage diabetes. Toni pricks her calloused fingertips several times a day to check her blood sugar levels. Rhonda pays a little more than $200 a month for supplies.

Toni wears an insulin pump — it’s the size of a cell phone and it’s pink. “It had to be pink,” Toni says with a laugh. Adds her mother, “Pink is definitely her style.” The first pump cost $5,000. Insurance paid all but $500.

Toni knows she’s fortunate. This summer, she went to a summer camp for kids with diabetes. And she saw what kids do when they don’t have good health insurance. “At camp they provide you with supplies, but I’ve seen kids who have saved their needles and taken them with them,” she says. “Even though you weren’t like supposed to, they would kind of sneak them just to make sure they would have something when they got back home.”

Toni and Rhonda know that when people don’t have good insurance, they’re so desperate they will even reuse a needle. “It gets dull. And so it really hurts. But you have to have insulin, just like I said,” Rhonda says. “I mean, without insulin, Toni would die. So you, take the pain in order to live.”

Toni listens to her mother and adds, “I do feel very grateful for all that I have, because that could be me.”

Source: NPR, by Joseph Shapiro

For those without health insurance or poor health coverage, there is medical tourism (as well as domestic medical tourism) to help them afford the costs of major medical care. Read more about these on Healthbase.

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