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Doctor heals poverty cut - For three decades, Pathi has been treating people free of cost

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SUNIL PATNAIK   |   Published 19.08.10, 12:00 AM

Berhampur, Aug. 18: Young aspiring doctors who have one eye on the exit door to richer lands have something to learn from him. Nearly 40 years ago, he spurned fame and riches in the West in favour of serving the poor in his homeland.

He is one of the few silent souls who make the world a great deal better through their commitment.

Meet retired professor Dr Krishna Mohan Pathi (71), who started his career as a surgeon for the grassroots people and reached the pinnacle in the field of orthopedic surgery. But Dr Pathi is different from those who support brain drain and want to hug the limelight. He has been healing the poor free of cost for more than three decades.

He went to England in 1972 as a Common Wealth Medical Fellow and worked at Radcliffe Infirmary Oxford, Liverpool and Birmingham when he was only 32-years-old and leading an affluent life abroad.

But he soon returned to his home in Sukunda village near Berhampur in Ganjam district to serve the poor and tribal people from rural areas to fulfil the dream of his father, the late Bhimasen Pathi, who was also a popular ayurvedic doctor during those days.

“I have preserved my father’s letter in which he advised me to come back to Orissa and serve the poor and the tribal people when I was in England. I am not at all repentant. In fact, I feel proud to have been able to fulfil the aspirations of my father who was a great visionary,” said Dr Pathi.

For the past 25 years, Dr Pathi has concentrated his efforts on the overall development of Madhapur by establishing a charitable organisation called Bharadwaj Gurukul Ashram to deliver health care facilities to tribal people. He used his professional clout and goodwill to mobilise the government, non-governmental organisations, the public and other resources for the rural folk especially the tribal people who live in the lesser-known Madhapur area under Kukudakhandi block in Ganjam district.

“I still feel upset when I come across inhumanity and lack of regard for values among new doctors,” said Dr Pathi. He has helped a large number of poor patients suffering from sickle cell disease. “I provided free medicine and injections to a large number of poor people when one had to shell out about Rs 8,000 for each patient suffering from sickle cell disease.”

Dr Pathi featured in the pages of the Limca Book of Records, 1990 (Page 87-88 Sciences and Medicine section), when he was a professor and the head of the department of orthopedic surgery at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur in 1988 for helping a patient to eat after 20 years.

Pramodini Kumari Panda of Purushottampur village in Ganjam district, who came from a poor family, was able to eat and brush her teeth for the first time in 20 years after Dr Pathi operated on her in March 1988. Pramodini was only 20-years-old at the time and had been fed through a rubber tube since childhood. Dr Pathi doesn’t know where she is now. “She did not have had a joint between the mandible and the maxilla that is better known as temporomandibular joint: it is vital for opening and closing the mouth. I operated on her and she was able to eat after 10 days of the surgery,” Dr Pathi remembered.

Dr Pathi still invests most of his time in research and innovative studies besides presenting papers in seminars in various parts of the country as well as abroad. He takes special interest in the field of hip, spine, children disc prolepses, paralytic disorder and sickle cell disease. “My academic and innovative studies increased after my retirement from the service in 1997,” Dr Pathi said.

His patients swear by him. “Dr Pathi is our God. We would be nowhere if he were reluctant to treat us,” said Ramesh Barik of Banthapalli. He and Mehentara Gouda of Chanchadapalli, Simanchala Sethi and Saura Gouda of Barapalli were all treated free of cost.

Dr Pathi has never aspired to be wealthy. He still lives in the house built by his father.

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