That is the score from April 1975 when he commenced practice at the Railway Hospital, Perumbur and recorded till 31 January 2015 at the International Centre for Cardio Thoracic and Vascular Diseases at the Frontier Lifeline Hospital, Chennai! K M Cherian (KMC, 73) continues to perform surgeries around a hundred every month.
An internationally acclaimed cardiothoracic surgeon who has practised in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, KMC has done a number of surgeries in several African countries gratis and served as a visiting professor at Nanjing, China. He has been a member of prestigious international societies spread across the globe.
KMC also has a reputation for building several renowned institutions. At the Railway Hospital Perambur, he helped another legend, cardiologist T J Cherian to set up surgical facilities for cardiac patients. KMC was the brain behind the promotion of the Madras Medical Mission (MMM) and its Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases, Chennai and later the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences(PIMS). Frontier Lifeline and India’s first medi-village at Gummudipoondi are his other stellar creations.
When Good Samaritans helped all along...
Priya M Menon, a senior assistant editor with the Times of India, Chennai has produced a biography of KMC. It’s not easy for a journalist working for a daily to delve deep into the technicalities and jargons of medical and surgical parlance; and for one writing on lifestyle trends, art and culture, gender issues and social concerns to gather information from the extremely busy and famous surgeon, covering his life span of seven decades, is a daunting task. Menon has succeeded in presenting complicated medical procedures and terminology in lucid prose to lay readers.
KMC sees the hand of God at every turn of his life. This is seen right from his getting into the MBBS course at the Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore to his studies in Australia and work at New Zealand, USA and Chennai at different points of time. KMC grasped every opportunity that came his way and grew in stature.
Look at his arrival into Australia after taking his MS degree at the Kasturba Medical College in 1970: “crossing the seas to foreign shores was a big, bold step to take in those days. Going to an alien country to carve a life out there was an even bigger one. The Indian family network went into overdrive and finally tracked down a teacher who lived in WaggaWagga a city in New South Whales in Australia – a Malayalee, who promised to help out his countryman.
“So with seven Australian dollars in his pocket (all the foreign exchange that was allowed then), luggage full of goodies for this Good Samaritan and a heart full of hope, Cherian set forth….
“In the wee hours of 6 January, 1971 Cherian landed at the Sydney airport. He waited in front of the airport, suitcase in hand, but the countryman who was supposed to meet him did not turn up.
“The taxi that took Cherian to his destination cost 4 dollars leaving him with just enough money to cover his stay for a day.... A kindly lady Mrs. Mac who had worked in CMC Chandigarh for ten years gave him a room, loaned 50 dollars and also much needed advice and guidance.”