I will now relate a touching experience which brings out the inherent goodness in doctors.


I was a Registrar in a public hospital when a young lad from Kerala was admitted for pericardial effusion (collection of fluid between the heart and its outer covering, the pericardium). Before initiating treatment, we sent him to a cardiothoracic surgeon for a biopsy of the pericardium. In those days cardiac surgery was not common and none of the present-day facilities was available. During thoracotomy, it was decided to remove the entire diseased pericardium so that the pumping action of the heart was improved. My friend Dr Jayant Desai was an assistant to the senior cardiac surgeon. Surgery was uneventful but there was one major problem. These patients need a lot of care in the post-operative period and being extremely poor, this patient's parents could not come from Kerala to be by his side in the immediate post-operative period. Jayant became a proxy parent and looked after the lad tenderly, day and night. Unfortunately after about four days, the patient died. Jayant promptly informed his parents about their son's sad demise. In the letter Jayant described the last few days in their son's life and expressed deep sorrow that their son was all alone in a distant city at the time of his death.

Within no time came the reply from the old people, thanking Jayant for all that he had done for their son. But more importantly, their expression of gratitude was heartening. They wrote to Jayant: "Our son was not alone when he died. With a brother like you in attendance, how can you say that he died a lonely death?” There was no reservation in the expression of profound gratitude. The acknowledgement of a physician's sincere efforts goes a long way in making a doctor-patient relationship more meaningful.