Organ Donation Awareness must start in Schools

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Dr Harsha Jauhari, Recipient of Dr BC Roy National Award in conversation with Dr KK Aggarwal

How does it feel to be conferred with one of the most prestigious awards in the medical field? Many professionals have been working tirelessly and selflessly in the field of Transplantation. I can only humbly accept this award on their behalf.

Tell me about your journey so far.

After graduating from AFMC (Pune) in 1972, and completing my MS in General Surgery in 1976, from GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, I went to UK, where after FRCS, I underwent training, at the Institute of Urology, London, in Transplantation Surgery, which was still in a nascent stage.

I came back to India in 1988 and set up Transplant Centers in three states, first at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, followed by one at Noida Medicare Center, Noida, UP and then at Artemis Healthcare Institute, Gurgaon.

What has been your experience regarding kidney transplants.

I have been involved in almost 5000 kidney transplants and have pioneered transplant in diabetes, post-CABG, HBsAg-positive and hepatitis C patients. I have also been instrumental in a number of surgical innovations, which are now standard practice.

Academically, I have presented and authored over 100 National as well as International Lectures and Presentations. I started the Transplant Program at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi. I have also trained a number of Postgraduate students in Transplant Surgery, who have then started their own programs.

You were appointed by Hon’ble Delhi High Court to review the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organ Act (THOA) 1994. Please illuminate.

Yes, I was appointed by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court to review the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organ Act, (THOA) 1994. Many of the recommendations, including creation of National Organ Transplant Programme (NOTP), were accepted and are now being implemented. I was also a member of a large member of Expert Committees on Transplants & Nephrology at Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

I am serving as a Technical Advisor (Organ Transplant) to Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, since August 2014 and helping to create, develop and operationalize the National Organ & Tissues Transplant Organization (NOTTO). I have been the President of the Delhi Nephrology Society and presently, I am President of Association of Surgeons of India (Delhi Chapter).

Tell me about your family.

My wife is a professor of English and I have two children, both of whom are lawyers. If you had to give a message to the community, what would it be?

My message to the community is very simple. It’s a one-line message: “Ang Daan Jeevan Daan / Donate Organs, Save Lives”.

Given a chance, what changes would you like to bring about in health policies? I have been involved in many changes in organ transplant over the years. I would like to include a lecture or two, on Organ Donation in schools and colleges, to create awareness.

Passion, dedication and personal attention are keys to success, says Dr Neelam Mohan

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Dr BC Roy National Awards for the years 2008-2010 have been announced. We will be presenting conversations with the winners of the Dr BC Roy National Awards regularly in eMedinewS.

Today, the first of these conversations features Dr Neelam Mohan, a pioneering and dynamic Pediatric Gastroenterologist in the country in conversation with Dr KK Aggarwal.

How does it feel to be conferred with one of the most prestigious awards in the medical field?

It’s like asking an actor getting an Oscar award or Filmfare award … it’s really a lovely feeling. You feel good that all hard work and efforts are appreciated.

What motivated you to choose an unconventional specialty like Liver transplant, Pediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the 90s?

I was keen to pursue a career in medicine that was new, different and unique. After completing my Postgraduation in Pediatrics, I had shortlisted three choices – Cardiology, Gastroenterology and Genetics.

Cardiology was a field everyone seemed to be opting for and Genetics though an exciting field, did not involve a high degree of patient interaction. I finally opted for Gastroenterology. I was fascinated by the liver as an organ and given the lack of awareness that existed about liver diseases in the 90s, I truly believed that I could help make a difference in the field and help save lives. I was also deeply inclined towards understanding endoscopic procedures that were beyond the purview of surgeons.

What were the challenges that you faced early in your career? How did you manage to overcome them?

During the 90s, there was no training program in pediatric gastroenterology in India. At best, AIIMS did good work in that field then. I worked there for more than a year. Subsequently I decided to leave for UK to learn from the masters in that domain.

Between 1997 and 1999, I obtained specialized training in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Liver Transplantation at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I vividly remember one of my senior colleagues telling me “Nobody dies of hard work”. I made this my motto and did double shifts as a ‘Clinical fellow’ during the day from 8 to 5pm and ‘Research fellow’ from 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

I returned to India in 1999 as an expert of liver transplants, pediatric liver and GI diseases. Finding a job was an arduous task then as no one was interested in my precise domain. But, I stood by my resolve, as I knew that the time had arrived to establish the field of gastroenterology and liver in the country. Luck was by my side, and finally, my relentless pursuit paid off when I got my first break at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, thanks to the vision of Dr SC Arya (Pediatrician) and Dr SK Sama (Chairman SGRH).

I worked at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for over a decade and was given the opportunity to live the dream of advancing endoscopic procedures for the betterment of health care in India. I became the first doctor in the country to initiate endoscopic procedures in newborn babies. I worked not only in diagnostics but also in therapeutic endoscopy. All these tremendously boosted my confidence and morale.

You have taken many pioneering initiatives that have brought India at the global forefront in this domain. Please illuminate.

I humbly say that I created India’s first unit of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Liver Transplantation division at Medanta – The Medicity under support of Dr Naresh Trehan (Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta –The Medicity) & visionary in medical field. I became a part of a horizontal expansion, and we expanded into various verticals besides liver transplantation and liver/ GI diseases such as motility, endoscopy, capsule endoscopy, manometry and diagnostic and curative work, making it the first such department in the country that provides comprehensive A to Z facilities for newborns, children and adolescents with Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases including the highest level of liver care that is Liver Transplantation. Today, we have more than 200 successful pediatric liver transplants in India and we can claim to be at par with America and UK, for results if not better.

After being credited to be India’s first doctor to initiate curative Endoscopy in newborns and young infants, I consider myself fortunate to have given several other firsts in India and world in the field of Liver Transplantation, such as

World’s first living related liver transplant in a baby with factor VII deficiency (2010) World’s youngest domino liver transplant (2009) South Asia’s first successful combined liver and kidney transplant from two live donors (2007) India’s first youngest liver transplant in 3 month old baby.(2015) India’s first living related liver transplant which cures a baby with Citrullinemia (2013) India’s first ABO-incompatible liver transplant in a child (2012) India’s first Robotic donor hepatectomy in liver transplant in a child (2011) India’s first Swap liver transplantation (2009) India’s first Bloodless liver transplant (2006) India’s first Successful survival of liver transplant in a fulminant liver failure (2004) India’s first Successful pediatric cadaveric reduced liver transplant (2003) India’s first successful Liver Transplantation in patient with both liver and lung failure due to Hepatopulmonary syndrome (2016)

In the last decade my services to the medical profession and the community have been recognized at both National and International level and this has been quite a humbling experience for me.

I have been honored with prestigious awards and accolades such as FIAP award by Indian Academy of Pediatrics and FACG by American College of Gastroenterology, SGRH Alumni Award. I have been appreciated by the medical fraternity and received the “DMA Centenary Award – 2014” given by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for my contribution in the field of child health, “ZEE Swastha Bharat Samman Award” in 2012 by the former Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Besides these, I have been honored with the Distinguished Service Award by Indian Medical Association and Eminent Doctor of the Year Award by eMedinews amongst various others.

What advice would you give to the youngsters today?

Passion, dedication and personal attention are the keys to success.

I would like to sincerely thank my family (Husband, Children, in laws and Parents), patients, their parents, my team of doctors, staff and my Mentors.

IMA welcomes Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of raising retirement age of doctors to 65

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Addressing a rally in Saharanpur on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the retirement age for central and state government doctors will be increased to 65 years.

IMA welcomes this announcement. It was the need of the hour and will help reduce shortage of doctors in the country, especially in the rural areas. The retirement age has already been increased to 70 years in medical colleges.

The Prime Minister also appealed to doctors to give one day each month (the 9th day) and treat pregnant women from economically backward classes for free.

We also appeal to all our fellow members to provide free consultation to pregnant women from economically weaker sections of the society, across the country on the 9th of every month.

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