THE BRAIN AND SPINE FOUNDATION
I have been visiting small towns in Maharshtra to carry out neurosurgical consultation.
I have often been ridiculed by some people by saying that the rural India needs basic services
like Gynaecology, general surgery etc.
I do not agree with them at all. Do rural people not suffer from brain tumours? Do they not get brain trauma?
Do our farmers not suffer from spinal problems like Sciatica? I feel that the rural India must be benefited by the
advances in the superspeciality branches like neurosurgery. Moreover, the symptoms of the brain and the spinal disorders are so ill defined and vague that they tend to be almost mystical and have been interpreted as such over the period of time.
The rural people, therefore, must be taught to understand the symptoms of the nervous disorders by
demystifying them .This knowledge empowers them to seek the correct treatment and to save themselves
from the quacks. These visits are, for me, a great source of joy and also a reminder of who I am and
where my true roots are.
During one such visit to ‘Shreerampur’, which is a small town near Ahmadnagar, I was consulted by a man
of Fifty. He had brought with him X rays of the cervical spine of his grandson. It showed that the grandson
Had a congenital disorder called atlanto-axial dislocation. In this, the first and the second vertebrae of the
cervical spine are dislocated with resultant compression of the spinal cord. I told the old man that his grandson
Needs surgery to fix this congenital dislocation, otherwise he will become invalid in a short period of time.
To my utter surprise, the chap stood up and was about to leave. I asked him whether I had insulted him in any way,
to which he answered in the negative.
He said, “Sir, this specialized surgery is obviously going to cost me a lot. I am no fool and I understand this perfectly.
I am a poor farmer and it would be better, in the interest of the remaining family that I let this grandson die.
I will get another”.
I was stupefied for sometime and it took me a few seconds to understand what he was saying. I asked him to sit down and
to tell me about his family. He had two sons and four grandchildren. They had a small piece of land and due to the famine in Maharashtra, had hardly any money left.
He was, actually a loving grandfather who was compelled by his misfortune to behave in this fashion.
I asked him to wait and called one of my friends who is in a construction line. He said that he was willing to help
this patient financially. I decided to give concession from my fees and to collect medicines for him. With god’s grace we could operate on him and cure him of his problem.
There are thousands of such patients in the need of brain or spine surgery and have no resources. Traditionally, our society has supported heart diseases, eye diseases and cancer. This is partly because these diseases have an emotional appeal around them and partly because the neurosurgical problems have become surmountable only of late.
I feel a dire need of a foundation which helps poor neurosurgical patients and teaches the society about the brain and spine diseases.
Having this aim in mind, this foundation has come into being.
Dr. Jaydev Panchwagh