A doctor who knows where his heart is

by Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU: In times, when booming private practice defines a good or bad doctor, GMC Jammu’s Cardiology head Dr Susheel Sharma is an exception. He lives by his oath.

Sharma is an odd doctor who was once officially asked by the state government to explain reasons for coming to the hospital even on holidays. His confrontations with Health and Medical Education Ministers are a talk of the town. If he finds someone interfering in his work or trying to disturb the smooth functioning of his department, he doesn’t mind giving him a lesson on ethics and professional needs of doctors.

To his credit are several path-breaking interventional procedures. He has carried nearly 7000 interventions. Prior to him, interventional procedures used to be a rarity in GMC, Jammu. Not only this, Dr Susheel Sharma is considered pioneer in Coronary and Non-Coronary Surgical Intervention in GMC Jammu. Despite belonging to a political family of Poonch, Dr Susheel Sharma prefers being called by his own than being referred as brother of PDP leader Yashpal Sharma.

A poor cobbler had no money to get operated for a life threatening heart disease. Sharma went out of the way, operated upon him without even asking relatives of this poor man to deposit the required hospital fee or paying for the life saving drugs. He made all the arrangements himself and ensured that the poor man comes back to life.

An early riser and deeply religious, Dr Sharma starts the day by listening to devotional hymns and if the schedule permits, visits a temple nearby. He follows this with brisk walk and exercise. He practices what he preaches. A fat-free and protein rich breakfast is what he takes in the morning. As the clock strikes 8, Dr Sharma is seen in his office chamber in Government Medical College (GMC) where he chalks out schedule for rest of the day.

He spends most of the time either in the Cath lab or in the OPD, strictly as per the schedule issued recently by the state government. He does not miss out on visiting the CCU and ICU both as a matter of routine and also when he feels the need to return to some patient who is either critically ill or who is not feeling well for any cardiac reason.

His advice

“Heart is an enigma. A patient with complete heart block fell down twice outside the catheterization laboratory of my cardiology department. But the moment he was on the operation table in the lab, things began stabilizing and day 2, he walked out of the hospital as if nothing had happened. He is hale and hearty,” says Dr Sharma.

“It is all about lifestyle change. If you have cardiac disease, you can live a long life provided you make lifestyle changes. If you want to prevent yourself from being operated upon, leave your lifestyle. Drive a bicycle, walk miles on foot, keep yourself cheerful and smiling all the time. This is how you can bring down all the parameters which lead to sudden cardiac arrest or at times death,” he adds.

“A walk in the morning or in the evening before breakfast or before dinner has the potential to add years to your life. You shorten your life when you stop walking, talking, dancing and smiling. As interventional cardiologist, my advice is to prevent the disease from taking a dangerous turn. A cardiac ailment can be managed for years but what it requires is complete discipline in your daily routine,” Dr Susheel says.

“As interventional cardiologist, I have taken pledge not to operate from private clinics. Those who are doing have their own understanding of this profession and I have my own. I don’t stop anyone but I have taken a conscientious decision not to do private practice. Hospital is my temple and it is here where I meet patients and make earnest efforts to see their cardiac issues are resolved.”


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