Sunday, July 8, 2007

Indian Teen Performs C-Sec for the Record Books

June 23, 2007

The Hippocratic Oath, according to Wikipedia, " an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine." As even us non-medical professionals know, thanks to a decade of ER and such, upholding the Oath is of vital importance to a physician. Though segments of the original Greek words have been modified to suit the modern times, the essence of it remains the same:

To do no harm to those who come in search of a cure.

I guess this is where the good doctors K Murugesan and his wife, M Gandhimathay slipped. In their eagerness to be the proud parents of a Guinness Book of Records certified 'World's Youngest Surgeon', they veered off their Oath-sworn path and well into the path of controversy.

By allowing their 15-year-old son, Dileepan Raj, to perform a c-section on one of their patients, they have caused moral and ethical outrage within the medical community and across the general populace. As doctors, their duty is towards the welfare of their patient - in this case, a pregnant mother and her unborn infant. How can they put that aside and entertain thoughts of world records and such at this stage?

Not stopping at operating on that poor woman, 27-year-old Neela, the doctors parents decided to go further and let the whole world and its wife know what a pistol they have for a son. They filmed the operation (oh the ignominy of it!) and premiered it at the Indian Medical Association's meeting on May 6. When the assembled brethren didn't gasp in wonder but in dismay at this, Dr Murugesan quipped, and I quote, “If a 10-year-old can drive a car and a 15-year-old can become a doctor in the US, what is wrong if my son, though not qualified, performs a surgery?”

Let's see if we can tell the good doctor what is wrong. Googling for the Hippocratic Oath netted me the gems the doctors have forgotten:

1. To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority - Strike one - having an unskilled boy perform a complex operation such as a caesarean-section, thereby risking not one but two lives is a big no no. I cannot imagine anyone feeling better at the thought of having the proud parents hovering over their son's hands and guiding them.

2. Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else's interest - it wasn't in anyone else's interest but their own, so that they could see their son's name in the Guinness Book of World Records. That they didn't cause GBH to the mother or the baby is a blessing. So, strike two!

3. To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them - The mother of them all, 'for the good of my patients', has been wiped off the memory banks of the culprits. Strike three!

Three strikes, doc - you're out!

The IMA's less than enthusiastic response and the resulting fallout possibly triggered a late reaction in his brain and Doc Murugesan backpedalled furiously to keep self and wife from disbarment and further negative publicity. He has denied that the offspring actually took the scalpel in his own bare hands and cut open a woman's belly. Apparently, the boy just watched, while his dad did the deed.

Maybe. But what about his claim to the Kumudam Reporter that his boy has been performing such operations from the time he was 12?

With the IMA urging disbarment and the local Health Minister promising 'tough action' if the whole incident could be proven, the future seems a bit sticky for the doctors. But no one can get their hands on a copy of the offending video - maybe the doctors came to their senses and burned the evidence. I, for one, hope that someone locks these offending individuals up and throws away the key. What sort of a doctor, what sort of a person does such a thing?

Growing ear hair to get your name on the record books is one thing; wilfully endangering a person's lives is a different kettle of fish. I say, punish these idiots and make an example out of them. Maybe that will deter other idiots from trying to create such vile records, like the nut who tried to make waves by performing 50 hernia operations in 24 hours.

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