It requires a success rare of 99.7 per cent, an experience of conducting 10,000 bypass surgeries and nearly 1,500 complicated ‘inoperable’ cases successfully —that’s what it takes to be the Prime Minister’s surgeon. And there is little doubt that Mumbai-based cardiac surgeon Dr Ramakant Panda qualifies with grace.
Panda, who has to his credit nearly 700 repeat (redo) bypass surgeries, was elected to lead 11 surgeons including five doctors from overseas to conduct the surgery on PM Singh on Saturday. The PM had undergone a similar procedure 19 years ago.
The 53-year-old AIIMS alumnus is the vice-chairman of the Asian Heart Institute (AHI) at Bandra Kurla Complex after working for 13 years at different city hospitals like Breach Candy, Jaslok, Nanavati and Lilavati hospital. Panda also has a fellowship from Cleveland Clinic under his belt and has worked as a senior registrar at Harefield hospital, UK where he was trained under renowned cardiac surgeon Prof Magdi Yacoub.
His peers are all praises for Panda. Said Dr D. B. Pahlajani, head of intervention cardiology at Breach Candy hospital who was part of the medical team that performed the first coronary angioplasty in India, “The first case that he operated at Breach Candy hospital in mid 90s was referred by me. He is extremely hardworking and has introduced many pioneering techniques in India.”
A close associate at AHI knows him as a ‘workaholic’ and said that many a times they wonder when he would return home. “He works long hours, from 7.30 am in the morning till about 12.00 midnight. Not only does he conduct marathon surgeries himself and oversee others, he is involved in post-operative care. He is very involved in his work,” said Dr Darshana Rathod, consultant, critical care who has been working with Panda, who has many firsts to his credit.
“Just a few days ago he set another benchmark by successfully operating on a 72-year-old man who had a 15-cm-long aortic aneurysm, a swelling of the main artery,” said Dr Sudhir Vaishnav, intervention cardiologist, AHI.
There are other laurels as well. Panda has received a national award for being one of the highest taxpayers for the assessment years 1994-95 to 1998-99 in the country.