LIGHTED 100,000 EYES
Special Interview with Dr. Sibhu Varki – Making medical greatness
If you ask anyone , “How beautiful is this world?” each one will have a story to share through which they have experienced. Amongst these , there are lacs and lacs of people who are unable to see this beautiful world. Approximately 100,000 people were given eye sight and lighted the lives of people who have been affected with Cataract . by Dr Shibhu Varki, an ophthalmologist.
Dr. Sibhu, presently lives in Trichy and works in Vasan Eye Care Hospital. It was a drizzling evening is when we met him.
About You Sir ?
We are basically from Kerala . Due to work , my parents had to move to Andaman and settle there. I was in born Andaman and did my schooling till my 12th grade. Did my MBBS in Kerala , My MD in Joseph Eye Hospital, Trichy. National Board in Delhi . Then went to London to do my FRCS. Though went abroad for studies but never had the mind to work there. I worked in Joseph Eye Hospital for 10 years. For the last 12 years working with Vasan Eye Care Hospital. Life is going on happily , says Dr Sibhu Varkiin the local language.
How could you speak clearly this local language?
(Laughs loudly) Actually if you see, I know not only Tamil but also other languages like, Malayalam, English, Hindi and Bengali. Also , we go for eye camps mostly to Karnataka, where we have to communicate with the patients. So have learned little Kannada also.
Why did you choose Medical Field?
I have a special story to share as to why I chose medicine field. When I was in class 8, my mother became sick and was admitted in a hospital. She had diarrhea , so I had asked one of the nurse to give glucose , by which she will feel better. At once the nurse told me, that I need to first become a doctor and then come and give her orders . That statement was like a challenge to me. That’s when I decided to do medicine . Till then , there was nobody in our family who had been in medical field. After me now , there are many in our family who have gone into medical field.
Why did you choose Ophthalmology?
When I was in my 4th year, MBBS, for the very first time I went into the ophthalmology operation heater to see an eye surgery. It was a surprise for me to see that they use so many instruments to operate such a small organ. If it was an abdominal surgery, can cut open and do the procedure. But not so in case of eye. A surgery has to be done by using microscope , enlarge it and surgery had to be performed in that small eye. Its little complicated.
When we have top go the next day for the rounds to check the patients , the feeling that we have is very different. If it was some other operation and if we have to go for rounds the next day, the patient , neither , will be in sedation or the patient will not know the effect of the surgery. But when it comes to eye operation, the moment when we remove the bandage from their eye hey get excited for being able to see the world. That feeling was very attractive for me. When we see the present technology, we don’t need to wait for the next day. Right after the surgery they are able to see their watch. That feel made me to choose this specialization.
Is there any special in this field when compared to other fields of fields of medicine?
I started my first practice in a place called Mettupalayam, Ooty. During that time, we used to go to |Coimbatore, Erode, Thirupur and Mysore, for eye camps. During that time, we bring about 200-300 patients in one time to do the eye surgery and send them back. Cant get connected with the society this close than any other field. All do service in the medical field. Here in this field, we not only go down to the community, but we go mingle with the people, go into their homes, eat with them, see their life style learn new languages etc., All these are so interesting that I find this field more special than any other fields.
Though you got your education abroad, why work in Tamilnadu?
MS , is the exam conducted by the State University and confers degree .. In India, I wanted to prove that I’m qualified and wrote the Indian National Board exam. Then wanted to improve my efficiency , so went to London and did my FRCS. Many have asked as to why I have done my studies abroad and still chose to work in India. I like Indian culture. Also I like Trichy so much that a kind of special love I have for this place. The reason to like trichy is, no heavy metro pressure , fresh air and when I wake up there still remains country side feel. When we cross about 5kms away from trichy, we can see village set up. If I have to say Trichy is a modern village. Those who likes to have both modern life and village life, Trichy is the best place. I love Trichy and for the past 12 years I live here.
There’s a controversy going on that , In the eye camps when the surgery is being done that few have lost their eye sight. Why is it so?
In the camp eye surgeries these kind of problem arises due to infections that come in the operated eye. If the infection comes after surgery in any other part of the body, we can deal with it. But when the infection comes in the eye , 70-80%, gets fully infected and they lose their eye sight. Its slightly difficult to rectify. There are 2 reasons for such infection to come in the eye. The Quality Control of the solution that’s used for the surgery. If we operate for about 50 people , all get infected due to this low quality solutions. Eye Camps have to be conducted economically. So low priced solutions are sometimes bought without checking the quality control properly and that have become one of the main problems.
Second, the infection that comes through the patients skin. Mostly we conduct this camps in the villages . In the village, many are farmers . So in their body most of the times bacteria kind of infections are present. Due to this reason also we have problems.
For example, when I worked in Mettupalayam, we used to bring patients from Karnataka and before coming to mettupalayam we have a river to cross. There we made the patients take bath, do shaving for them and make them wear clean clothes. If they do not have clean clothes then, we provide clothes for them and then only we bring them and admit in the hospital. IF not the infections will spread to other patients in that hospital. We are very careful and cautious that the infections shouldn’t spread . The same mind should be there for the patient also.
On your first surgery , did you have any thought to change your profession ? Why?
Till date I have conducted approximately 100,000 Cataract Surgeries. When I was practicing , in Mettupalayam, a thought came across my mind whether I will be able to handle such a small and delicate organ and as to how I’m going to operate. This thought made me to come out of the operation theatre. My senior Dr Philip Kuruvila encouraged me and advised me to go step by step so that ill get used to it and will become easy for me to handle. So it took almost an year to learn about the surgery and its complications fully. Today I’m able to conduct 12-13 surgeries in one hour. All this is possible because of my seniors encouraging words.
Any unforgettable incident during your entire service , till date ?
Six months before, one incident brought tears in my eyes. A 2 1/2 year old boy baby was brought by their parents . We found that the boy had a very rare kind of cancer of the eye called , “Retino Plastoma”. First, I told the parents to get the scan done for which they didn’t have money for it. Then we spoke to the scan centre to give concession and med them take the scan. From the scan report I found that the cancer had spread to the entire brain. When the parents got the news they asked me as to what they can do? I advised them to take the child to Adayar Cancer Centre. I also told them that its not going to be easy to cure the child. The child’s parents were love marriage so there was no support from either of their families. Also they had got this child after 15 years of their marriage. I asked the parents as to why they did not bring the child early so that we could helped . But they said, that they knew that the child had some problem in the eye but they couldn’t do anything as the child’s father had met with an accident and was bedridden for the last 6 months .
When I started my car I saw through my view mirror, the parents had sat crying on the road outside the hospital with the child. I went and asked them why they r sitting on the road. They asked me if I say that the child will be saved by the treatment then they will take him to Chennai Cancer Centre , if not they will take the child home. When I heard that question from them , I was moved and didn’t have anything to say but it only brought tears in my eyes. This one incident affected me so much that I cannot forget.
What is your next goal?
I want to take this medical talent and efficiency to be used by the next generation. My wife is also an ophthalmologist. Once a year we go to places where there’s no medical facilities and conduct surgeries for free. We still go to places like Bihar and Utter Pradesh and conduct free eye surgeries once a year. Recently we did conduct an eye camp in Andaman also. We want to reach as many people as possible and help the unfortunate ones.
Namma Trichy would like to congratulate and bless Dr Sibhu Varki for his wonderful and marvelous service to the community by lighting their lives .
“All the best Dr Sibhu Varki Sir”