Dr Suresh H Advani, who
will be conferred the Dhanvantari Award, outside Jaslok Hospital
As a ward boy wheels out the 31st winner of the Dhanvantri Award, - India's greatest recognition in medicine - from his
clinic at Jaslok Hospital
, patients crowd around him and pour out their problems.
Give me five minutes," says Dr Suresh H Advani
, the man who pioneered bone marrow treatment for leukaemia in India.He
will receive the award on November 3.Dr Advani came to Mumbai from Karachi with his parents at the time of the Partition.He
was confined to a wheelchair after a polio attack at age eight."I was in hospital for nearly a month and met a lot of doctors.That's when I decided I wanted to become a doctor," he said.He studied at Grant Medical College and then went to complete his Masters in the then-new field of oncology.He
has helped make it the specialised field it is today.He
said, "The polio was never a problem.Even as a student, I could perform all procedures."
The turning point in his
career came when, after training in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, he
successfully transplanted bone marrow into a nine-year-old girl from her
is married now and leads a normal life," he
most memorable patient is, however, a 45-year-old woman, whom relatives were convinced wouldn't survive.
was suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia and was being given a lot of high-dose treatments," he
condition became serious and she
had to be shifted to the intensive care unit.Her
relatives lost hope and asked me not to try too much - not to let her
team, however, didn't give up.Today, 10 years later, the woman owes him her
life. Dr Advani
was also part of what was probably the largest co-operative clinical trials in the country to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children.The trials conducted on 1,200 patients increased success rates in treatment from 20 per cent to 70 per cent. "Those trials showed the world that we can get good results in a developing country like India too," he
said.A former chief of medical oncology at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr Advani helped set up the oncology department at Jaslok.
is the chief medical and paediatric oncologist and heamato oncologist at Jaslok Hospital
Future plans include research into developmental therapeutics to develop new molecules for treating cancers.He is also working with Mumbai University on standardising the oncology syllabus in medical colleges.
The Dhanvantri Award has been awarded annually since 1973 for outstanding contributions to medicine.
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