In keeping with my love of nature and unique geographical places, I jump at any opportunity to teach, operate or visit South Africa. The level of neurosurgical care is excellent and some of the most innovative surgeons in history have originated from here….think Christian Barnard and Warwick Peacock. On one of my previous visits to Johannesburg to perform pro bono surgery I came across a young neurosurgeon who impressed me dramatically. He was head of his department in one of the largest public hospitals in one of the poorer sections of the city. He clearly wasn’t in it for the money and he and his beautiful wife, a plastic surgeon in the same institution, worked tirelessly to improve the care to impoverished patients. He was courageous enough to perform keyhole operations that he had learnt by reading my book, Principles and Practice of Keyhole Brain Surgery, without ever seeing it performed by someone else. His results were amazing. I wanted this person as my fellow. Thankfully, he agreed and the rest is history. Chris is a technically gifted surgeon. He has courage, dexterity, good clinical acumen, comprehensive knowledge of the literature and a caring nature. He taught us as much as we taught him and his enthusiastic personality was contagious. He will be a shining light in the field of innovative neurosurgery in his country and I am confident he will make a positive contribution to the overall welfare of both the privileged and impoverished people of South Africa. We wish him, his talented and beautiful wife, Bella, and their young family, the best of luck.
As usual, the over 600 applicants we received for the fellowship was shortened to 5 amazingly qualified candidates. They were from countries on all major continents and appeared to be the best of the best. How was I to choose? Harish was a resident at one of the best hospitals in the world, Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills, USA. He had received a glowing reference from his Chairman, the famous and talented, Keith Black…..but so too had the other 4 short-listed candidates. As is often the case, I decided to meet with them all on one of my trips to LA, and my daughter Alex, who was living in Santa Monica at the time, joined me. After interviewing them all, over breakfast, I still couldn’t make up my mind. Alex piped up and stated with authority, “Harish is the best candidate…I would choose him”. Given that my daughters have had very close relationships with all my previous fellows, from infants to now, I guess, no-one would be better qualified to know, what makes a good fellow or a bad fellow….who makes my life easier and enjoyable, and who makes my life harder and miserable. I decided to act on her intuition.
Harish, like all the other fellows brought his unique training and personality to the fellowship. I always give my fellows a title once they finish that includes at least one superlative….best technician, best academician, best clinician etc. Harish’s “superlative” is easy. Part of teaching and interaction with the fellow includes placing bets with them on some challenging clinical question. As you would hope and expect, I win the bet more often than not….usually based on my 35 years of experience rather than my reading of the text books. For the first time in the history of the fellowship, Harish won more bets than he lost. I hope this doesn’t mean that I no longer have anything worthwhile to teach, but I suspect, it’s Harish’s sharp mind, vast breadth of knowledge, clinical acumen and a little Indian karma!!!
Thanks for an incredibly enjoyable 6 months Harish. We wish you and your beautiful family the best of fortune in SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.