Iconic Indian American Heart Surgeon Dr Mukesh Hariawala to receive ” India’s Most Admired Surgeon ” award

Dr Mukesh Hariawala was born in a lower middle class family in a small village called Valsad , Gujarat and has now gone on to become one of the most sought after and renowned heart surgeons in the world. His 25 year career dream journey begins in Mumbai, India passes through London, England and settles in the famed Harvard University , Boston – USA.
Here are excerpts of an exclusive interview with Central Chronicle.

Q. You have performed surgery on many celebrities, industrialists, sports personalities and above all Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. What is your personal opinion about him ?

A. I was a key member of British Surgeon Dr John Wright’s surgical team in 1990 in London , England when Dr Manmohan Singh approached us for surgery for his heart ailment. He was then India’s representative to the World Bank and came over from Switzerland. The procedure done at ” Harley Street Clinic ” was like any other operation but I did get to know him and his wife Gursharan Kaur reasonably well. I found him to be a simple human being who had a great economic vision for India. On successful surgery, he sent me a hand written thank you card after he began working as Advisor to PM Narasimha Rao.
Since he is soft spoken and a minimally expressive personality , he is often perceived as weak. Historians in hindsight will applaud his contributions as an economist and he will go down in history as one the finest Prime Ministers of India.

Q. You have operated on legendary music director R D Burman and interacted with the late Rajesh Khanna . How was that experience ?

A. ” Pancham ” as R D Burman was affectionatley called was operated in a different London hospital called Princess Grace Hospital in 1989. Rajesh Khanna visited him on Day 5 after operation along with ” Aradhana ” movie director Shakti Samanta and I was in the room doing dressing on RD. Since my next operation got delayed , I spent a lot of time with them. Rajesh Khanna aka
” Kaka ” was very happy with the surgery results that he wanted to celebrate immediately by taking RD to the local pub for a beer at ” Duke of Wellington ” down the road from the hospital. I turned down his request as it was against hospital policies to which he in a gentlemanly manner acknowledged and respected.


Q. Do you recollect any special nostalgic moments with Rajesh Khanna ?

A. Rajesh Khanna was fascinated by open heart surgery particularly when I told him that we had stopped Pancham’s heart during surgery for over one hour and restarted it by giving a low voltage electric shock. He curiously inquired ” Has science and technology reached a point of innovation that it can mend emotionally broke hearts. I shyly replied , if we did , people will stop watching his romantic movies. He winked, admired my creative sense of humor and promptly became very friendly with me.

 

Q. You are a world authority for pioneering research on dynamic ” Heart Angiogenesis ” . Can you elaborate on this science?

A. Angiogenesis is a cutting edge science where I have done basic science research work at Harvard University in Boston, USA beginning in 1995. It has gone through a 15 year journey of validation and now has become a reality to be a treatment option for patients with heart disease. Every person was provided by nature with defence mechanisms to combat catastrophic health situations. Thus , we have small blood vessels that are lying dormant in the heart which can reactivate and provide blood flow particularly after heart attacks. The stimulation by low energy lasers and subsequent springing up of these native vessels is termed ” Angiogenesis or Rebirth of pre existing blood vessels ” .

 

Q. ” Triple Heart Therapy ” is a treatment protocol that you have mastered. What are the 2 other components in addition to Angiogenesis ?

A. Angiogeneis by itself standalone is a weak therapy for a large muscular organ like the heart. Thus we provide ” Single Artery Bypass Surgery ” and also inject ” Stem Cells ” harvested from patients own bone marrow taken from the hip bone. Since the angiogenic stimulation and stem cells are the pateints own contribution to the treatment, there are no supplementary costs and a full revacularization of the heart can be achieved. This in future could potentially become a promising alternative to ” Bypass Surgery ” , ” Angioplasty and Stent implantations “.
This I believe, will lower the heart disease related healthcare cost burden throughout the world and will help rural Indian citizens with an economical alternative of care.

Q. In 2010 , you achieved the unique qualification of becoming one of the first heart surgeons in the world to qualify with an ” Healthcare Executive MBA ” ?

A. In medical college or even post graduation, doctors do not undergo any formal education in economics and thus stay providers of health services most of their career. I wanted to better understand the role of ” Money Factor ” in healthcare. So I went to business school and graduated with an MBA. This education has now empowered me as an ” Healthcare Economist ” to analytically facilitate reducing healthcare costs and provide strategic guidance as advisor to governments and institutions. An MBA can also extend the career of a doctor post retirement from clinical practice and part time work as a consultant to medical companies which can remain a permanent revenue stream.

Q. What are the opportunities for India in the booming ” Medical Tourism ” business ?

A. Deloitte and company , the accounting giants few years ago projected Medical Tourism industry to cross a 100 Billion market cap. There have been some revision of numbers due to slow down in global economic trends in an interconnected world and India is expected to see its negative impact. The fact remains that India has a pool of the best doctors in the world and now the corporate hospitals like Appollo , Fortis etc have world standards, excellent reputation and international accreditation’s. This opportunity must be grabbed especially with the new healthcare reform bill proposed by President Barack Obama in the US. The immediate by product of the bill will increase waiting periods to see a doctor and have surgery in the US causing a socialized medicine marketplace. Americans are impatient to wait for care and thus likely to seek elective surgical procedures at overseas destinations provided the standards and results are comparable to US.

Q. You are soon going to be bestowed this national award for pioneering work on Angiogenesis. What will it do for you personally and professionally ?

A. I have been honored in few countries but it is always special when you get recognition from India. It is an expression of peer acknowledgement with whom you have spent your formative years growing up in India. The award will bring glamor, adulation and national respect but in my humble opinion it will also bring responsibility to do something good for the people of India and mankind. I look forward to this new challenge in this next interesting phase of my career.

Q. You are a prolific speaker and invited to deliver ” Keynote Lectures ” globally. What is your schedule for rest of the year ?

A. I weave my lectures with cutting edge science, futuristic technologies and contemporary healthcare economics. This combination of expertise coming from a cardiac surgeon with a qualified MBA is somewhat rare and thus I am an attractant to economists , government policy makers, scientific conventions and other large public events. I am scheduled to speak in Hong Kong , Egypt , China , Australia, Dubai, Germany, India and possibly Pakistan later this year. I enjoy sharing knowledge with like minded people and it gives me an opportunity to interact with world leaders.

Q. Who are the world leaders that have inspired you ?

A. I was lucky to get the opportunity to shake hands with Mother Teresa when she visited my St Elizabeth’s hospital in Boston in 1996 . Her hands were frail but she transmitted powerful positive energy which was a unique experience. Recently, I shared the podium with Nobel Laurette Dalai Lama and it was a memorable interaction.

Q. Finally, as the first NRI to get this prestigious award , do you have any closing message for our readers ?

A. You can take an Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of an Indian.

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