Athletes account for two-thirds of all surgeries done at Safdarjung Hospital’s newly opened Sports Injury Centre (SIC), which was inaugurated two weeks before the Commonwealth Games in October last year.
Injuries sustained in practice or in the field by national and international sportspeople account for four of the six surgeries done here daily. “They account for two-thirds of the 270 surgeries done since September. Many players can’t afford treatment in private sector, pushing them even to quit playing due to injuries that can be easily treated,” said Dr Deepak Chaudhary, director, SIC.
The most recent sportsperson to get operated upon is Anil Kumar Khatri, 32, a wrestler who won gold in the Commonwealth Games. His surgery was done on Monday using the latest minimally invasive procedure, arthroscopy, for a loose piece in his right elbow.
“I was almost on the verge of quitting wrestling as I couldn’t practice due to the pain. Thankfully the doctors in Patiala referred me to Delhi,” said Khatri, who is expected to be discharged on Wednesday.
In a room near Khatri’s is Pawan Hooda, 19, a judo player who has represented India at many international events. He’s being treated here for severe pain in his right leg, which has plagued him for six months. “A senior told me about SIC, where they diagnosed my pain as a ligament tear and operated upon it,” he said.
“In six months, he should recover completely. We get close to 200 people in our out-patient department now, mostly due to word of mouth publicity,” said Chaudhary. “We don’t charge them for surgery and stay,” he added.
The SIC was set up to provide diagnosis, surgery and rehabilitation to sportspeople who otherwise needed to either go abroad or shell out exorbitant amount of money for treatment in India. It charges only for tests and implants, which make it cheaper by 75% than a private hospital.
“We charge them CGHS rates: an MRI that costs Rs. 6,000 in market costs Rs. 2,500 here. The cost of implant usually gets reimbursed. For those who can’t pay, we have schemes in place,” said a senior doctor at the hospital.