How is my country? This was the first question Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh asked doctors while thanking them after his surgery,recalls Dr Ramakant Panda,cardiac surgeon with the Asian Heart Institute (AHI),back in the city after operating on the PM.
An 11-member AHI team led by Panda,performed bypass graft surgery on the Prime Minister. Three doctors from the AHI cardiac rehabilitation team are still working with the PM in Delhi to help him recover quickly.
Dr Panda gave an account of the 12-hour surgery. He says it took exactly 30 seconds for the PM to decide whether to opt for bypass or angioplasty. We explained both. Angioplasty that will help him bounce back to work in two days but would require a surgery in six months,and bypass where there is slow recovery but was good in the long run. He opted for bypass.
Asked how he feels to be addressed as the PMs doctor,Panda smiles: It feels great. He adds,There was 10 per cent anxiety that I was operating on a VIP,but I kept telling myself he is first a patient. Even though we have performed a redo surgery before,frankly,there was stress before and during the surgery. The AIIMS doctors were very helpful.
He proved an ideal patient. What worked for the PM was his strict,healthy diet and keeping diabetes and blood pressure under control. He had full faith in us. Post operation,he never complained of pain and asked us to stop administering pain-killers. When we removed the mouth pipe,he thanked the doctors. On the second day after the surgery,the PM wanted to meet his secretary. He just could not keep off work. Doctors started to read newspapers for him a day after the operation, says Dr Panda.
Throughout the process,right from selecting the hospital,till he was discharged,he repeatedly said he did not want to inconvenience other patients. On the second day following the surgery,he asked whether he could walk in the room and not on the corridor as it could disturb other patients.
The surgery was planned to be performed after the Republic Day but the PM opted for January 24 as it was a Saturday since there was a three-day holiday after that,when patient influx is low.
The Prime Ministers Office offered money for the operation but we refused as he was a very important person of the nation, said Dr Panda.
Despite three personal physicians to the PM who were with the PM round the clock in the X ICU (ICU meant only for the PM which was later opened for the general public once the PM was discharged) Dr Panda slept on a sofa in the ICU at night. He will fly to Delhi on Sunday to remove the stitches at the PMs residence.