September 2nd, 2017 was a regular work day for Dr Sunay Bhat— a laparoscopic surgeon based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. At that time, he was working as a surgical consultant in a Christian charity hospital in Coimbatore and also ran a private clinic.
Dr Bhat was winding up for the day when he received a call from a nurse. A 13-year-old girl had been diagnosed with peritonitis—an inflammation of the abdominal lining caused by bacterial infection or the rupture of an abdominal organ. She needed to be operated upon urgently, and Dr Bhat was the doctor for the job.
Speaking to The Better India, Dr Bhat said, “I regularly drive a Honda two-wheeler to work. The shortest route takes about 14 km from my regular workplace to the mission hospital, and I left the hospital at 5 pm.
I looked up and noticed that the dark clouds had taken over the entire sky. It was only a matter of time it would rain heavily.”
Its human nature to avoid a long commute when you see dark skies in the evening; more so when you are riding on a two-wheeler. The chances of getting caught in the pouring rain and being drenched to the bone, and perhaps even getting into an accident, just cannot be ignored. Similar thoughts were floating in Dr Bhat’s mind, but he decided to take his chances and started going towards the hospital.
“I had only travelled 2 km when it started raining heavily, and within a minute, I was fully wet,” Dr Bhat said, adding that “It was difficult to see the road ahead. Cars and trucks were passing by, and people gathered around bakeries, grocery stores, bus stops for shelter. I looked around to hire a cab or auto, but none would stop.”
He waited there for 15 more minutes, hoping that the rain would stop, but that didn’t happen. Thinking about his patient, who was in distress, Dr Bhat started his commute to the hospital again.
“I decided to take a chance and drive myself amidst the heavy rain and water clogged uneven roads. I must admit, the thoughts of my family waiting back home crossed my mind as I feared some mishap on the way. But I knew this road well, each pothole or speed breaker. All I needed to do was drive carefully.”
After over an hour of riding in unmerciful rains, Dr Bhat finally reached the hospital, soaking and tired. But he quickly changed into his scrubs, and without wasting any time, he and his team got to work and performed a successful laparoscopic appendectomy.
The patient’s parents thanked the kind doctor for having saved their daughter. The fact that he had driven over 14 kms in heavy rains only to operate on their daughter was not lost on them.
Right after the surgery, Dr Bhat decided to go back home. There were no more patients waiting at the hospital, and the rains had let up as well. However, as soon as he took to the road, the skies played a joke on him.
“It started raining heavily again, and home was still a good 10-11 km away. By now, I decided not to feel bad about it and was enjoying the drive,” says Dr Bhat. Pleased with the fact that he had saved a 13-year-old girl from a dangerous infection, even if it meant riding in heavy rains, Dr Bhat continued his journey home with a smile on his face.
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“There was a sense of an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction which seldom crosses my mind consciously. There were at least three strangers I on the way, who asked for a lift, and I happily obliged. The last person even enquired if I had eaten and asked me to drive safe.”
It is heartwarming to see that the doctor helped so many people on a day when he could have happily enjoyed a cup of tea inside his home. Not only did he potentially save a life, but he also helped strangers get home safe and sound.
“We live in a time where doctors are often judged, criticised and punished. Like many others, I too have experienced the transition in the patient’s faith in our fraternity. Our work is still sacred, and we should never lose heart. Each one of us is destined for a higher cause, and as doctors, we must utilise every single opportunity to help the needy,” signs off Dr Bhat.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)