The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Surgeon with heart of gold
Bhabatosh Biswas

He isn’t 50 yet, but his list of things done is remarkably long. This cardio-thoracic surgeon with a heart is a mentor for a group of poor boys, has set up a surgical unit in a paediatric hospital, runs a free clinic, and is an expert on video-assisted thoracic surgery (VAS).

Bhabatosh Biswas is an honorary professor at the Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan for a bunch of aspiring doctors. He tutors the students who can’t afford a “proper medical education”, by taking them along on his rounds and making them sit in on live demonstrations of his procedures.

“Medical studies in this country still very much follow the gurukul system. So, until a student has a good doctor as a teacher, he will not get very far. That is what I am trying to do,” he explains.

The graduate from RG Kar Medical College sees patients free at a clinic for the poor once a week at the Pratisthan, where he performs surgery including VAS, also referred to as keyhole surgery.

That is his particular claim to fame, since he is “one of the few surgeons in eastern India” with the expertise to perform this procedure, which he also practises at CMRI.

Biswas has been invited to many a meet, nationally and internationally, to speak on VAS, among other subjects. In fact, he is off to Hyderabad in March, for a conference from 12 to 16, where he has been asked to give a lecture on VAS.

“It is an honour to be able to speak in front of so many eminent specialists in the field,” he says, in his chamber at the Apollo Gleneagles Clinic at Gariahat.

A point of particular pride for the consultant at BM Birla Heart Research Centre is the Thoracic and Cardio Vascular Research Centre (TCVRC) at the Institute of Child Health Paediatric Hospital, which was set up by him. “I started my efforts in 1994, and it was finally inaugurated on December 15, 2000. A lot of people came forward to help with funds, especially various Rotary clubs. The road was long and hard, but we made it. Now, TCVRC has provisions for open-heart surgery on infants to 16-year-olds. We also help with the cost of the operation and medication by raising funds through donations for those who cannot afford the treatment.”

The father of one went for training to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1994 and 1998, but came back to Calcutta because “I only went there so I could use the knowledge to help people here”. About his daughter following in his footsteps, he says: “She is still young, but she wants to pursue science in college. Maybe she will be a doctor, but these days the competition is quite tough. We’ll wait and see,” he smiles. The grey-haired good doctor from Broad Street has come a long way, but insists that he has much longer to go.

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