The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe into boy surgery, ‘CD’ missing

Tiruchirappalli/Patna, June 21: A missing CD is the key to the criminal prosecution of the doctor who allegedly pursued Guinness glory by getting his 15-year-old son to do a Caesarean at his clinic.

Dr Murugesan, against whom the Tiruchirappalli administration began a probe today, has denied the charge. “I performed the surgery and my son was allowed only to watch it. Reports about the surgery being done by my son in an attempt to set a record are not true,” he is reported to have told a TV channel.

One point in favour of the doctor and his son Dileepan Raj is that the patient hasn’t complained. Twenty-year-old Neela has turned out to be a relative of Murugesan, and it isn’t clear whether she would cooperate with the investigation.

This has put the focus on the CD that Murugesan is believed to have shot of Dileepan as the boy, who passed his Class X board exams last year, allegedly carried out the operation sometime in early May.

Sources said the doctor today denied before the investigators — government health officials led by the district revenue divisional officer — that any such CD existed.

But officials claimed that a boastful Murugesan had played the CD before doctors in his hometown Manaparai, 40 km from Tiruchirappalli, to show off his son’s feat. “That is how it all became public.”

Government sources said it was possible that Murugesan had “destroyed” the CD by now, so the prosecution would try to get the local doctors who may have watched the disc to testify.

PTI quoted an unnamed Indian Medical Association (IMA) official as saying that the CD of the boy doing the surgery — and not just watching it done — was shown at a local IMA meeting. “But it now seems the doctor is trying to prove that there was no such CD or that the data are lost,” he said.

Sources said the doctor had kept the patient in the dark. “Even Neela’s husband Ganesan did not know that it would be Dileepan doing the operation while his parents (his mother Gandhimathi is a gynaecologist) would be watching,” a source said.

The baby was born with a noticeable lump on the spinal cord, a doctor said, but added that the birth defect had nothing to do with the surgery having been performed by a 15-year-old.

In Delhi, a shocked Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss said: “This matter needs thorough inquiry. If it is found that the information is true then severe action should be taken.”

The district authorities aren’t looking at the act just as a violation of medical ethics but as “criminal misconduct tantamount to endangering human life”, officials said.

The administration plans to write directly to the Medical Council of India to take stringent action against Murugesan and even to cancel his registration as a doctor.

But the IMA said the medical council would cancel the registrations of Murugesan and Gandhimathi only if the prosecuting authorities could prove they had violated medical norms.

“But a complaint by the patient is necessary for all these actions,” IMA national president Ajay Kumar said in Patna.

A district administration source said the absence of a complaint meant “even the first information report is yet to be filed”.

The IMA was keen to highlight the points in favour of Murugesan. “There is no evidence against Murugesan and his wife Gandhimathi, and the patient has not lodged a complaint,” Kumar said.

Told that the IMA’s local wing had been outraged at the “medical misadventure”, Kumar said: “Murugesan and Gandhimathi in their statement to the IMA have said that their son only assisted them in the operation.”

This is at odds with Murugesan’s reported statement about Dileepan having only watched the operation.

On the charge that Murugesan had administered anaesthesia to the patient without being qualified to do so, Kumar said: “It’s for prosecuting and legal bodies to investigate the matter on the basis of any complaint.”

Tiruchirappalli collector Ashish Vachhani had taken suo motu action this morning and ordered the revenue divisional officer to probe the alleged operation at Mathi Surgical and Maternity Hospital. The RDO is being assisted by the joint director of medical and rural health services and the deputy director of health services.

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