In the peak Covid time, when pandemic mortalities at Himachal Pradesh’s premier health Institution – Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) Hospital, Shimla are making bigger headlines than survivors of comorbidities returning home fully cured, the story of 60-yr old woman Nirmala Devi from Swarghat in Bilaspur district, should not miss the focus.
Yet it's also the story of how the lead operating neurosurgeon Dr Janak Raj performed a successful and rare brain surgery first time at any government hospital under the Covid threat. The patients' age was the biggest risk factor and the threat of Covid infection.
While the woman proved lucky, Dr Janak Raj got Covid infection from the hospital a week after Nirmala Devi's brain surgery. He remained in the hospital for more than 10 days at Covid care ward and returned to duty last week.
A Senior Medical Superintendent manning 100-bed Covid-care centre—biggest in north India at IGMC (Shimla), Dr Janak Raj says, “Nirmala Devi was really on life-threatening stage when brought to the hospital. His son Raj Kumar, who accompanied the woman knew her position. There were just a few chances of her survival. I am happy at the success, which is 100 per cent, and the woman is fully cured”.
In the medical terms, as he recalls, “It was a case of Anterior placed Foramen Magnum Meningioma”.
It took him six hours to perform the surgery with a team of three other doctors – Dr Gian, Dr Vineet and Dr Jyoti, besides other paramedical staff. The surgery was performed on October 22, just two days after the woman was admitted to the hospital.
“My mother is absolutely fine and doing well. She can eat herself. She can walk two to three km on her own without any help as compared to the pre-surgery period when she used to collapse all of sudden, legs crumbling down, and hands failing. The doctors at a private hospital in Punjab had told me, after an MRI that she had only two to three months chances to survive.” Raj Kumar told Outlook over the phone.
An employee at Himachal Pradesh Women Commission, Raj Kumar recalls, he had approached Dr Janak Raj through Chairperson of the Commission Daizy Thakur some time back.
“I had heard about Dr Janak Raj being an outstanding neurosurgeon but the Covid -19 spread had been the biggest cause of fear as also the series of advisories being issued for the persons with comorbidities,” he recalls.
On Tuesday when state’s health Dr Rajiv Saizal went on a surprise visit to the Covid care ward at the IGMC he chose to highlight the fact as to how Dr Janak Raj’s team had performed a rare brain tumour surgery at the hospital –which proves the point that some success stories of survival, are getting overshadowed by the Covid spike in Himachal Pradesh.
Dr Janak Raj is already back to work after he had spent more than 10 days at the Covid care ward, got discharged after being tested negative, underwent a mandatory recovery period and now back in action, in a twin role as Senior Medical Superintendent and Covid worrier.