A Matter of Faith (9)



Way back in 1960. I was invited to Qatar to perform some plastic surgery procedures; a VIP—a member of the family of the ruler of Qatar-wished to see me. Soon enough, he arrived, but not alone. There was a big retinue accompanying him. This did not surprise me, for Sheikhs are known for their retinue of servile servants. But what was intriguing was the presence of a young maiden amidst them. She however turned out to be the daughter of the Sheikh and the object of my professional examination.

An axillary contracture was what I saw. A few investigations and a simple single-stage surgery was the answer. I was thanked profusely for my advice but the Sheikh regretted that he could not allow the surgery to be performed by me.

The Sheikh apparently was committed to a surgeon at the American Hospital in Beirut, where the daughter had already undergone several surgical corrections and the surgeon had very magnanimously assured the Sheikh that many more would follow. This advice suited the Sheikh fine. For every surgery, the Sheikh and his entire family spent their summer holidays in Beirut at the expense of the Qatar Government. My offer of a single stage surgery would have deprived them of their annual holiday at the expense of the state!

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.