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Training doctors for lung surgery biggest challenge

Vikram Gupta, 18, regrets not being the first patient to undergo lung surgery at Sewree TB Hospital, which resumed conducting lung-related surgeries on March 2, after the hospital stopped carrying out the surgeries after 2006.

mumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2012 01:14 IST
Menaka Rao

Vikram Gupta, 18, regrets not being the first patient to undergo lung surgery at Sewree TB Hospital, which resumed conducting lung-related surgeries on March 2, after the hospital stopped carrying out the surgeries after 2006.

"I wanted to get the surgery done as soon as possible. I want to go home to Azamgarh," said Gupta, who underwent surgery last Friday. He was diagnosed with TB after he came to Mumbai in December and has been undergoing treatment at the Sewree TB Hospital, the city's sole public hospital dedicated to TB.

Gupta had empyema of the left lung, a condition in which the thin gelatinous lining of the lungs called pleura gets filled with pus and compresses the lung. The surgery involves decortication of the lung, meaning removal of the infected pleural lining. The surgery takes a minimum of four hours.

While pus can be removed from the chest with a routine procedure, surgery was crucial in curing him of TB, said doctors. The surgery is done free of charge at the hospital.

Gupta was anxious but drew inspiration from Kishore Jadhav, 35, a labourer, and Krishna Chaudhary, 20, who underwent surgeries before him and showed clear signs of recovery.

"Surgery has a definite role in the management of TB. It is important to clear the chest cavity for the drug to have effect on the lung," said Dr Sanjay Oak, medical director, major hospitals, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Dr Oak, who is present in the operation theatre for each surgery, said he wants to scale up the number of surgeries from one to two per week. Due to the absence of anaesthesists and necessary facilities, no surgery was performed at the Sewree hospital after 2006.

"We send doctors from the three major civic hospitals - Nair, KEM and Sion hospital - to be present during the surgeries so that they are trained in these surgeries for long term work in the hospital," said Dr Oak.

On March 2, as the first surgery was completed, there was a sense of festivity in the hospital. "Retired servants from the hospital came to the operation theatre," said a doctor. The three retired doctors have thriving private practice, but chose to come to the hospital for a measly sum of Rs5000 per month.