It's the heart that matters
Service to society has been his credo. A profile of Dr. K.A. Abraham, as he completes his tenure as Chief Cardiologist, Railway Hospital, Perambur, and Chief Medical Director, Southern Railway.
THE SYLVAN surroundings and the picturesque buildings, some of them a legacy of the Raj, leave an indelible impression on a visitor to the Railway Hospital, Perambur. But, what sets it apart is the reputation it has earned over the years as a premier institution offering quality medicare on a par with corporate and private hospitals anywhere in the country. Besides scores of Railway employees for whom the facilities are available sans a price tag, outsiders too are treated at a very reasonable cost.
The state-of the-art cardiology unit not only meets with international standards but is also known for producing some of the country's leading cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. And, Dr. Kurudamannil Abraham Abraham, who retires on March 31 as Chief Cardiologist, Railway Hospital, Perambur and Chief Medical Director, Southern Railway, is among this distinguished band of professionals.
Serene and self-assured, he looks back on his life and career with a smile of contentment. For, unlike so many of his colleagues and contemporaries who left the Railway Hospital lured by lucrative jobs, Dr. Abraham chose to stay on and continue in Government service for the past 25 years. Not surprising, as service to society has been his credo.
Perhaps much of this zeal, not just to excel but to touch people's lives, stems from the family which over successive generations has produced as many as 200 top-notch doctors specialised in various disciplines. One of them was in the first batch that graduated from the Madras Medical College in the 1850s. So passionately does the clan cherish its lineage and roots that its history has been preserved for posterity in books.
While in school and college, Dr. Abraham remembers, sport was an all-consuming interest. Apart from being a talented 400-metre hurdler, basketball, swimming and tennis were his forte. After his graduation from the Christian Medical College, Vellore, came a stint in the Army. Dr. Abraham nostalgically recalls a letter from the late Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, commending his rare dedication to duty during the Indo-Pakistan conflict (1971). Then followed a posting to Gujarat where he acquired a degree in Internal Medicine. Dr. Abraham returned to Vellore in 1973, subsequently specialising in cardiology. He went on to become one of the finest cardiologists in the country infusing hope and life into countless hearts.
His entire career, since he joined the Perambur Railway Hospital in 1978, has been devoted to the development of the institution. From barely a couple of surgeries a week in 1978, the hospital has become a leading referral centre. The cardiology wing with its 110 beds performs 2,500 procedures, besides 1,000 open-heart surgeries in a year.
Dr. Abraham has, during his tenure, been instrumental in bringing about several improvements to the infrastructure and facilities not only at the Perambur hospital but also in other Railway Hospitals in the Southern Region. He acknowledges, with characteristic humility, that these milestones could be achieved only because of the unstinted cooperation of his colleagues and staff.
He is responsible for making the hospital's cardiac wing a teaching centre, which trains students for the Diplomate of National Board of Examinations. He recalls with pride that many of them occupy positions of pre-eminence in hospitals all over the country and abroad.
The awards and accolades he has received through his career bear testimony to a triumphant track record. He is the first Indian in recent years to have been made a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, without having to appear for an examination. He is also a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and Research Member-Adviser to the American Bibliographical Institute. The Dr. MGR Medical University, Tamil Nadu, made him an Emeritus Professor in 1998. A Padma Shri came next. He has more than 200 scientific publications to his credit and these have been compiled into a book, which was released on March 30.
Retirement will not see Dr. Abraham take that well-deserved rest. On the other hand, it will herald the opening of another chapter in his career, as he will be joining the team of professionals at the Vijaya Heart Foundation and at the Cardiac Care Centre of the MIOT Hospital.
Talk about home and family and a delighted smile lights up his face. Dr. Abraham firmly believes that after work, it's time to relax. Deeply religious, his day is not complete without reading the scriptures, especially the Psalms. And with the guidance of the Eternal Shepherd he hopes to continue with his mission of healing hearts.
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