Dr. M L Saraf is heading the Orthopaedic Department at Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences, He was born in the city of Kolkata and shifted to Bombay soon after. His alma mater Institute is the King Edward Memorial Hospital. Also, he has associations with other reputed hospitals and institutes as well. Paediatrics was always his interest area.So, after that, he went to the UK to earn the yearned M.Ch in Orthopaedics from the University of Liverpool. He gave up the chance to live in London and came back to serve his country and the underprivileged society. So, He joined KEM Hospital as a surgeon, and it was the start of a remarkable journey.His professional achievements reached their pinnacle when he was asked to head the medical team to look after Mr. Bill Clinton, then President of USA,while he was in Bombay during his India Tour. He was asked by the Ministry of External Affairs to professionally advise President Karzai (President of Afghanistan) when he was in Bombay during his India Tour. His excellence has always given an assurance to the Government of India which they need to bestow him which such grave responsibilities.
In an exclusive interview with India Unbound Magazine Dr. M L Saraf shared his views & vision on orthopaedics.
Kindly tell us about your school & collage days, where you born & brought up?
-I belong to a Rajasthani community. I was born in the city of Kolkata and shifted to Bombay soon after& was brought up there. Currently, I am heading the Orthopaedic Department at Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences, Mumbai.
Did you always wanted to become an orthopaedic surgeon since your childhood?
-Not really, I wanted to become an Engineer or a Scientist. I became a Doctor to fulfil dream of my father & looking up to my neighbours Dr Sazgiri, best paediatrician in the country,DrDholakia best orthopaedic surgeon of the country, Dr Pradhan, pathologist who were big doctors. I wanted to achieve something so I chose to become a doctor.
How difficult was your medical education under ‘earn while you learn’ scheme and what is your suggestion to our youths (aspiring doctors)?
-The medical world is hardworking, My biggest advice to all people aspiring to become doctor is that medical is difficult science, don`t aim to become a millionaire, it should be your aim to use what you have learnt for the betterment of the society. Don`t refuse the patient just because he can’t pay you, treating them will give you great satisfaction. doesn’t matter if you don`t sleep the more patient you treat the better you will treat them next time. Numbers of grey hair decides how good you are in your treatment.
What are the different types of orthopaedic conditions and treatments available?
-The most common patients encountered by an Orthopaedic surgeon are those with fractures following an injury. They are treated by simple casting, minimally invasive surgery or reconstructive surgery of the bones with metal implants. The other common problems that are seen in the daily practice are patients with neck and back pain, joint pain, sports injuries, ligament strain and inflammation of tendons (tendinitis). The treatment ranges from medications, physiotherapy, intra-articular or intra-lesional injections to joint replacement surgery.
Are there different types of orthopaedic doctors and surgeons?
-Though Orthopaedics is a single entity and all Orthopaedic surgeons are trained in all fields, there are many sub specialties coming up with surgeons underging specialized training in each field. Some of the sub specialties are Trauma, Arthroplasy, Arthroscopy and Sports medicine, Paediatric and Geriatric Orthopaedics, Spine and Oncosurgery.
What is Knee replacement surgery& How safe it is for the patients?
-Knee replacement surgery is considered a boon in recent years. It is a highly rewarding and successful surgery advised and done for patients with Osteoarthritis (wearing out) of the knee joint. When the joints get worn out, the patients develop pain and deformity of the limb with difficulty in walking. Their activities of daily living are affected restricting them from doing their routine work.The patients become dependent on others. Joint replacement offers them mobility and a chance to get back to their normal life. The results are extremely good and the surgery itself is considered safe.
What is job satisfaction to you?
-When you do an operation & the patient smiles at the end of the day, that is job satisfaction & the job satisfaction to me is always there because very surgery which I have done whether it was KEM were I was professor of orthopaedics for 30 years or Bombay hospital where I am head of department orthopaedics perseverance, hard work to give best for the patient is satisfying but there is always a inner feeling to achieve something more than others have done. One always loves to see that you have treated people whom other were not able to treat that’s what I call an achievement.
Kindly tell us about your achievements so far?
-Right from the time I completed my formal education in school, I always stood first in every competitive examination. There are no geographical boundaries for my achievements as well. If topping the University in India was not enough for me, I went on to achieve the top honors in Liverpool University as well. In addition to achieving the famed M.Ch in orthopedics from Liverpool University, I won the Norman Roberts Prize for my achievements, being the first Indian to do so. My colleagues refer to me as the ‘Computer of Orthopedics’. Of course, that is not so without reason. I believe I am absolute master in the subject having acquired tremendous authority in orthopedics, especially pediatric orthopedics. my mastery is such that noted orthopedics always consult me before undertaking any major operation. I have attended to some great political luminaries and celebrities such as Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. Hamid Karzai, Bill Clinton, Dilip Kumar, and so on. I have a very long association with the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. I had worked there as an intern and returned to continue his practice as an orthopedic expert as well. This is where I inculcated the spirit of sacrifice. This has played a prominent role in my life. He got the opportunity to understand the true problems of the poor people at close quarters. Then I made the decision to serve them for the rest of his life Serving the poor comes naturally to him. I believes that the rich people could always afford me at any point. They have a lot of alternatives as well. However, the poor do not have any place at all. I know the travails of the poor people as they travel from the outskirts of Mumbai to KEM Hospital for their orthopedic consultations. Any person who has traveled in the local trains of Mumbai will testify that it can be difficult for an able bodied man to traverse such a long distance. If you have a handicap, you are at a great disadvantage. This prompted me to reach out to the poor. Instead of making them come to the hospital, I made it a point to travel to their villages and conduct the regular checkups. This would also enable me to look after more patients. I works with a single minded devotion of eradicating polio from the face of the country. These qualities make me one of the most loved persons in the country. The poor people adore me as the Divine Incarnate.
How many knee transplant successfully you operated till date?
-I have done 1200 knee transplant surgery successfully & every week 30 operations.
How do you control corruption free atmosphere in Bombay Hospital?
-Corruption is a tool of the needy, If a person gets at least his basic needs food, clothing & shelter corruption will automatically decrease. If our staff is getting enough salary, medical benefits proper care then why will they become corrupt, they will only be corrupt when their needs will not be fulfil.
What suggestion or recommendation on health issues would you like to give to the govt being an expert for implementation in Maharashtra state & India?
-Firstly, Improve the government hospitals, so that people`s don`t have to go to private hospitals for treatment were they can`t afford it. secondly, Cleanliness and appointment system so that patients don`t have to wait for hours for their turn to come. the long queue should be system of the past. third, wherever facilities exceed demand from their own patients it should be used for private patients so that you can earn some money into development fund in government hospitals. Every individual who is born it should be the birth right to have medical care.
How you spend your leisure time?
-Nothing is left for leisure, I treat two more patients when I have a leisure time.
What message you want to give to the students who want to become an Orthopaedist?
-If you are planning to become a doctor don`t think of money, medicine is hard work if you want leisurely life don`t become a doctor, When you become a doctor there will be no better satisfaction in life then becoming a doctor because, every day you are treating a new human life. so, you almost feel like a creator.