CHENNAI: Controversial former vice-chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University, Dr Mayilvahanan Natarajan, has reached the milestone of performing 2,000 Custom Mega Prosthetic (CMP) surgeries for the treatment of osteosarcoma, commonly known as bone cancer.
Not as contentious as the initiative to make 50 per cent marks compulsory in each component of every subject, a ruling that was later quashed by the Madras High Court, Dr Natarajan’s pioneering efforts in this regard maximised the scope of treatment for bone cancer.
Speaking at a felicitation event, he said that it was the burning desire to achieve zero amputation rates in India by 2020, that kept him going even after 25 years.
When Dr Natarajan started out, amputations were an infamous treatment method for bone cancer.
“It was the most upsetting thing. Had there been more awareness, amputations would have been avoidable,” he added.
While prosthetics treatment was available, the fact that it had to be imported and hence the was unaffordable for too many patients prompted Dr Natarajan to direct his focus on maximising use of indigenous production of prosthetic equipment to cut costs.
“The earlier CMPs were made using stainless steel. Later titanium models were introduced which has resulted in even lesser costs,” he said, before adding that 15 states in India now prefer CMPs over imported prosthetics.
Koyel Mallick, a bharatanatyam dancer from Kolkata, remembers the events following her diagnosis quite well. “I was only 18 at the time. It felt like all my dreams were shattered,” says Koyel, who recollects coming down to Chennai, after the doctors in her State failed to figure out the cause of swelling in her right tibia.
“People told me that I would never dance again, and that I would never be able to lead a normal life. But I am doing all those things and more, despite my limitations,” she added.