Monday, May 13, 2013
Thisincident occurred almost fifteen years back and much before i had any idea about gurus and their grace. Now that i am on the path, my thinking has changed completely. A gentleman came in for admission for severe Coronary Artery Disease and needed grafting of two of his arteries. His ventricular functions were quite bad, placing him in the high risk category. i was to operate on him the following morning. While examining any patient before surgery him, it is customary for us surgeons to explain the procedure and to answer any queries he/she may have. Mr Kumar’s (name changed) question surprised me…he wanted to know whether we had generators in the Operating Room! i was taken aback as even in those days it was routine to have not only generators in the OR but also uninterrupted power supply as a backup for most of the important equipment…hence just laughed his question off. The operation started off well enough. In those days almost all heart bypasses were done by the conventional method in which the Heart Lung machine is used, based on the principle of draining all the impure blood from the heart, cooling and purifying it by oxygenating it and then pumping it back into the heart. The heart is “arrested’ electively, which means that it is made completely still by injecting certain solutions into the heart arteries, to facilitate the operative procedure. During this period the patient is virtually “dead’ …in very very deep sleep. Once the grafting is done, the heart usually comes back to ‘life” either by itself or is “shocked” back to life. ( At this point of time most of us operate using the“Beating Heart technique” in which the use of the Heart Lung Machine is dispensed with) The operation proceeded well till the grafting of the last coronary artery commenced. The heart was absolutely still , considered a very good sign of arrest, had completed about half of the anastomosis (suturing of the conduit to the lower end of the coronary artery) when suddenly the lights went off! There was total darkness in the OR and the generators failed to kick in! Pandemonium reigned. To make matters worse, the uninterrupted power supply also failed! At this point the patient was completely dependent on the heart lung machine for much needed blood to his brain and the rest of his body…but the machine had stopped working! There was no way he could survive. Another shock awaited me….the crank which can work the heart lung machine manually was nowhere to be found! Chaos reigned in the OR for God knows how long…i tried to complete the anastomisis with the help of a flash light…for whatever it was worth. After a few minutes, which appeared to be hours, i felt the patient’s heart start beating gently…ever so gently…i wondered whether i was confusing it with my own heart which was galloping like a horse! Soon the lights came back and the operation could be completed. Mr Kumar was shifted to the Recovery (an ICU where operated patients are nursed intensively). Though the operation had been completed, there was an extremely high possibility of serious of damage to his brain, kidneys and practically all organs of the body as none of them would have received adequate blood supply during the shutdown. Bracing myself for the worst i went to see him the next morning…lo and behold, i saw a smiling Mr Kumar lying comfortably in bed none the worse for the ordeal he had gone through. When enquired as to how he felt he asked me if the generators in the OR had worked! He then took out a picture of his Guru and asked me to keep it in my pocket at all times! i obliged him for many years till i found my own Guruji (or rather till my Guruji found me)! God does have a sense of humour when it comes to bringing non believers on to the ‘Path”!