The Mumbai surgeon who performed the bypass surgery on Prime Minister Man-mohan Singh just treated him like any other patient.
He was operating on the most important man in the country but put this out of his mind, he said on his return from Delhi.
Eleven days ago, 76-year-old Singh spent over 12 hours undergoing redo bypass heart surgery at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) in Delhi.
“I have operated on lots of VIPs, but you have to disassociate yourself and just think of them as patients. Other-wise, you may have more anxious moments,” said Dr Ramakant Panda, consultant cardiovascular thoracic surgeon at Asian Heart Institute, Bandra. “Ninety per cent of the time, I was able to block out the fact that I was operating on the prime minister.”
Panda, who had a team of 40 assisting him, described the prime minister as “the model patient”.
“He never complained of any pain. After five days, he asked us to stop his painkillers. He asked no questions and said he had full faith in what we were doing,” he said. “He did not seem nervous. All he said was that he wanted us to make sure other patients were not inconvenienced.”
The prime minister’s wife, three daughters and son-in-laws were at the hospital, and although anxious, were very cooperative, Dr Panda said.
He added that the surgery was high-risk as there was a “strong chance” you could cut the heart in two, killing the patient. The PM opted for this surgery over angioplasty.
For the first few days, the doctors would take turns to read him all the newspapers until he had recovered enough to read them himself.
“Once the surgery was over, he said he wanted to thank everyone. His second question was whether there were any problems in the country.”
Panda will fly back to Delhi on Sunday to remove the PM’s stitches.