Pune hospital has rare painting of Mahatma Gandhi’s surgery but you can’t see it
The Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College in Pune has a rare painting depicting a life-saving emergency surgery that Mahatma Gandhi had to undergo, 23 years before India attained Independence.
It was at the Sassoon Hospital associated with this medical college that Gandhiji went under the surgeon’s knife on January 12, 1924. The circumstances in which that surgery happened were quite dramatic. Gandhiji was then in Pune, serving his six year sentence in a sedition case since 1922. However, two years later he was required to undergo an emergency appendectomy to remove an inflamed appendix. The archives at the BJ Medical College state that the surgery began on the night of January 12, 1924, as a thunderstorm raged on. The surgeon who operated on Gandhiji was a Britisher by the name of Colonel Maddock. As the records state, “Gandhiji thanked his surgeon profusely and they became warm friends.”
It was while the surgery was in progress that the electric bulb went off. The appendectomy had then to be finished by the light of a hurricane lamp.
A Gandhi Memorial was created in the old, stone building of the hospital, around this incident and in the room where the surgery was conducted. Located in the Opthalmology Department of the hospital, a painting commemorating that incident was installed in the room. However, this museum is kept under lock and key, depriving the public of visiting the museum and paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Without any explanation, BJ Medical College Dean Ajay S. Chandanwale and the hospital superintendent Ajay Tawade were firm that the memorial is not accessible to the public.
The Sassoon Hospital was constructed in 1867 after a generous donation by Jewish philanthropist David Sassoon from Bombay. It was 79 years later that B.J. Medical School funded by the Parsi philanthropist Byramjee Jeejeebhoy was expanded to form a medical college.
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