THE BIG LEAP

It was a few years down the line I first heard about the surgical treatment for obesity. Obese patients would come up to me and would ask me to help them shed weight. These were the people who had virtually tried all possible weight loss measures e.g. getting religiously enrolled in various diet plan centres, adhering to strict exercise and physiotherapy regimens, taking herbal and allopathic medications etc. I wanted to help them but Liposuction was not the answer to everybody’s woes. Some patients were morbidly obese and required much more sophisticated procedures. When I first got to know about Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding, I was keen to get it started in my own hospital. I thought I needed a bit of hands-on training before I really stepped into this dogma. I browsed through internet and got hold of a good bariatric workshop that provided theoretical details and practical training over a span of 5 days. I attended the same and when I returned back, I felt more knowledgeable. This was the time when bariatric surgey was still confined to the big corporate multi specialty hospitals in India. No medium sized health care centre was carrying out bariatric surgeries.

After returning from the workshop I decided to start bariatric surgery at my hospital as well. I requested Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala, a senior bariatric surgeon to help me out with the initial surgeries. He was more than happy to comply with my wishes.

The next step was to prepare ourselves for the big thing. It was a stormy night in December 2006 when I sat down and prepared bariatric – specific material which included consent forms, diet plans, nursing instructions, patient information leaflets etc. I extracted every iota of information available on the internet. I always see any surgical treatment modality from the Indian perspective because Indians have a different body type, diet, metabolism and cultural values. I felt close to realizing my dream of being the first medium sized hospital in India to successfully perform bariatric surgeries. The motivation was superfluous, the energy was infectious and the overall mood was rapturous.

I planned for a patient awareness program. I handpicked the staffs that were going to be part of the core team of bariatric surgery at Khetarpal Hospital. Patient awareness leaflets were designed and distributed along with the daily newspaper in the neighborhood. I personally called up a lot of my old patients who wanted to be pinged the moment we were to start bariatric surgeries in our hospital.

I had organized a Patient Awareness Program. Participants had to fill up a form giving details pertaining to general health, past history, dietary habits, lifestyle activities etc. We checked every participants’ BMI (Body Mass Index) before the program started and by the time the program officially started, around 110 participants had already registered. The program incorporated obesity education in a highly interactive manner. There were a lot of queries, most of them intelligent ones. At the end of the session, which lasted a good 5 hours, we were all left exhausted and elated.

42