The Richest Doctors
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“He needs an urgent bypass surgery. Very risky, high chances of death on table.” the cardiologist told us.
My friend’s father, a businessman, was admitted just after midnight for chest pain and breathlessness. The cardiologist rushed to the hospital within an hour and arranged for an agiography. As my friend’s father did not have any cash upon him, and neither my friend nor myself had sufficient amount in the bank, we requested the cardiologist to please proceed without deposits (most hospitals charge the complete bill to the doctor if the patient does not pay). I told the cardiologist that I was working as a resident doctor. He told me not to worry, signed on the paper that he will be responsible for the bills, and the patient was wheeled into the cathlab. When he came out, the doc told us that patient will need an urgent bypass surgery. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
My friend and his mother were devastated. They were passing throough a bad financial phase, and had no funds ready. The patient himself had taken big loans from few business partners / friends, and started a new venture recently.
“You find out the best heart surgeon, we will try and arrange something” my friend told me while his mother kept on repeating prayers, crying in a corner of the waiting hall.
I spoke to my teachers and found out two names who had excellent results in cardiac surgery. Of course they were fully busy, appointments were difficult to obtain, and the surgical costs were an embarrassing thing to bargain: knowing that the best will come at a cost.
“Don’t bargain, I want my father to be operated by the best, I don’t want the doctor to feel that we will skimp. I will arrange somehow”my friend told me.
The best advantage of becoming a doctor came my way to help me: many medical doors open easily for the co-professionals as with any other profession. The same evening I was sitting in front of one of the best Cardiac surgeons in Mumbai with my friend. The VVIPs in the crowded waiting room angrily looked on at two youngsters allowed in ahead of them. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“He needs surgery urgently for sure. I will plan it tomorrow, although I will have to readjust my schedule, but you will have to shift him to this hospital where I am operating the other case too. We will arrange for the cardiac ambulance, don’t worry.”said the surgeon. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Sir, how much will be the charge?” I asked, hesitant and already scared of the answer.
He replied without a blink. Our hearts skipped a beat together, and my friend looked at the ground with wet eyes.
“Sir”, I said pleadingly “Can we get some discount?”
My friend squeezed my hand, and said firmly, but with tears: “No Sir, please proceed, please do the best for my father. We just want him to recover. We will arrange for whatever charges you say”.
“Don’t worry. Please sign the papers so my juniors will arrange to shift your father here early tomorrow morning. I will do my best”said the heart surgeon.
That night, my friend called up many relatives and his father’s friends to get some help. As expected he got none. But after an hour, he started receiving many calls from those who had lent money to his father. They wanted it back immediately. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
By early morning, most of those ‘friends’ from whom the patient had borrowed money gathered in the hospital. They had a meeting with my friend’s mother, who pleaded them and assured that all the money will be returned once the patient recovers.
“What’s the guarantee? We heard that he may die during the operation. We cannot afford that” said the calm leader of the group.
“Please don’t talk such words, I beg of you” cried the lady, visibly torn by what she was facing, “I will sell our house and return your money, we just need some help till his surgery. Please wait for a week”. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
As my angry friend got up to reply, his mother asked him to just shut up. She pleaded the group with folded hands “I promise you, we will sell our house and return your money”.
The group whispered for some time.
“We will wait only if your husband signs that on a bond paper before going in for the surgery. Otherwise we will block his ambulance”. The leader said.
While shifting the patient, a ‘break’ in the ambulance journey was arranged during which the patient on the stretcher was taken into a ‘friend’s’ home on the way to the hospital, made to sign various papers while still wearing his oxygen mask, and only then did the lenders allow him to be shifted to the next hospital. Business is business, and our society condones everything in the name of money, except when paying for health. Along with my friend, I earned quite a big scar that day.
He was taken in the Operation Theater. Inside, the cardiac surgeon’s junior told the boss about the horrific “break” they had to take. The cardiac surgeon didn’t react.
The surgery was successful, the patient was discharged in seven days. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The cardiac surgeon didn’t charge the patient. He did not mention it to us too, we came to know during discharge. We went again to thank him. He was smiling now.
“It’s Ok. Carry it forward” he told me, then turned to my friend “You too”.
We touched his feet and left.
As we finished our coffee that night at the famous cafe on Marine Drive, my friend told me “Earlier I thought there is no money in medical profession, you people work too hard for what you get. Doctors are kind of “Use and Throw“ community. Now I feel, you people are still the richest whether you earn or not! That cardiac surgeon, by just not charging my father even after saving his life, owns everything I will ever earn in my life! Thank you!”
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Based upon a true story.
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