The Healers Journal – A Journey Fueled by My Passion to Serve Society - Blog



The Healers Journal – A Journey Fueled by My Passion to Serve Society

March 11, 2024 | Contributed by Dr Rahul Saraf

As a personality trait I don’t like to write about myself. When I was asked about my journey to and in the field of Pediatric Cardiology I got overwhelmed with this idea. And after sinking a few thoughts I decided to write a brief. I belong to a small town in Maharashtra where I did my high school education. Unlike many others I wasn’t sure about my medical career. The only thing I had in my mind was to compete and achieve a position to do something good in life. When I had a choice to select a career option I opted for the medical field as it connects you with people and provides an opportunity to serve society. I believe a medical career gives you that chance to connect with those in need and help people in their difficult times.

To become a specialist in medical science one must be committed, put in lots and lots of effort and slog for a long period of life. Instead of a sober 70 hours a week work schedule there are continuous 70-hour duties and weekly working hours would go to more than 140 hours. But I was not alone and most of my colleagues and friends have worked like this to become a competent specialist in the medical field. There are no short cuts to this.

After my MD in Pediatrics from Sion Hospital Mumbai I started working at Asian Heart Institute for a while. At that time a team from NHS UK would come there to perform child heart treatment procedures through the ‘Healing Little Heart’ initiative. I was greatly influenced and thrilled to see that children with heart diseases, if treated well and appropriately, could have a normal life. This was an entirely different experience in comparison to the situation at the BMC hospitals. I remember a case of Tetralogy of Fallot on whom a BT shunt was performed by this team of NHS. Unfortunately, that got blocked after the team surgeon had left. In the absence of a surgeon the patient was administered thrombolysis after which she started bleeding from the surgical site and other pricked areas. It was challenging to manage that case, but all the efforts were not in vain and she survived and recovered from that condition. It was not less than a miracle to see the patient back in OPD after 3 months with normal growth and development. I think these experiences get engraved in the mind and motivate you to become an able mediator in patients’ healing.

The innocence and energy of children drives one to work harder”- DR Rahul Saraf

Narayana Hrudayalaya(NH), Bangalore is one of the best places to understand the intricacies in the field of Pediatric Cardiology and child heart treatment. Clinical experience and workload at NH are unparalleled to most other places. After my fellowship I worked at NH in different capacities for four years and have performed more than 2000 pediatric cardiac interventions. I was also involved in the management of thousands of pediatric cardiac surgical procedures during that period. I am blessed to have mentors like Dr. Suresh P.V., Dr. Sunita Maheshwari, Dr. Shreesha Maiya, Dr. Sejal Shah. These teachers not only taught me Pediatric cardiology but many other aspects of life as well. I will always be indebted to these stalwarts and many colleagues for whatever I have achieved.

I moved back to Maharashtra with an opportunity to start a new unit at Jupiter Hospital, Pune. Dr. Abhijeet Naik, a renowned pediatric cardiac surgeon and I started Pune’s first dedicated pediatric cardiology center. Dr. Ajay Thakker, Chairman and managing director of Jupiter hospital trusted us for starting this and provided the pivotal support. He is a great visionary in establishing a comprehensive unit with state-of-the-art facilities. However, establishing a new unit is not easy. It requires great teamwork and a lot of motivated clinical and non-clinical personnel.

There are various challenges in the field of pediatric cardiology. At times it is frustrating to observe the current scenario. The ever-growing demand and competition to provide “Free services”, rampant corruption, insatiable urge for numbers and low remuneration for clinical staff are going to negatively impact this field in the long run. As a matter of fact, cardiovascular surgery and Cardiology are the least sought branches after super-specialty entrance examinations. Many in these fields do not get filled due to lack of candidates. There is also a lack of charitable heart foundation India that can help meet the cost of treatment for families which cannot afford the same.

Despite the challenges Pediatric cardiology is an exclusive field. Pediatric cardiology allows me to work as clinician/pediatrician, radiologist, fetal cardiologist, interventional cardiologist and intensivist at different times. No other specialty has such a variety of work experience. It is always heartwarming to see children with critical heart diseases leading a normal life after their treatment. Their innocence, energy and ability to recover drive you to work harder. After all this is the field which gives a many heart-touching experiences (Literally as well) which makes it unique and worth striving for.

Dr Rahul Saraf
Senior Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist
Jupiter Lifeline Hospitals Ltd, Pune

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