FRIENDS OF VELLORE CHRISTIAN MEDICAL COLLEGE
& HOSPITAL (QLD)
PRINT POST PUBLICATION NUM BER PP424022/1770
Vol.41 No.3 July/August 2008. Subscription to newsletter $5 p.a.
(Qld FOV is a branch of the Australian Board of the Vellore Christian Medical College and Hospital)
We are delighted that the Director, Dr Suranjan Bhattacharji, is able to
have a few days in Brisbane on his way to the Annual Meeting of the
Australian Vellore Board in Adelaide in August.
We are inviting all who can to come and meet Dr Suranjan on Tuesday, 19
August at an Indian dinner at the Stafford Baptist Church, near the corner
of Appleby and Rode Roads (UBD p119 H 17) at 6.30 for a 7pm start. The
cost is $20 per person.
This is another celebratory event in this 50 th year of Qld Friends of
For catering purposes it is important we know how many are coming.
Kindly reply, no later than Monday 11 August, to me, (Brian Lee, 19
Glencloy St, Ferny Grove Q 4055, ph 3351 3272)
or to Ian Kerr ph 3772 5970.
If you are not able to come yourself, you may know a friend or family
member who would appreciate this opportunity of meeting the Director.
WOMEN STUDENTS – A CMC NEWSLINK STORY
Dr Natasha Edwin, doing post-graduate work in the University in Chennai,
received a total of 11 prizes including 5 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 3
cash prizes from the State Governor at an award ceremony late last year.
She had already graduated as a doctor at the Vellore Medical College,
getting many awards during her course of study. She chose to do Medicine
as a career because she had read the story of Dr Mary Verghese, a Vellore
student who was so injured in a car accident during her training that she
could no longer walk, but she finished her course and worked as a surgeon
– because she could do that sitting down. When I read this story I was
reminded of one telling of the first women medical students at Vellore,
Back in 1918, 90 years ago this year, there were no Indian women doctors.
Dr Ida Scudder, who had founded the hospital in 1900 with the aim to train
Indian women some time, went to a senior Government officer and asked
for permission to start a course for women. He shook his head as he looked
at this bold American lady doctor. “Dr Scudder”, he said, “you’ll be lucky
if you can find three women students even willing to try. If by any chance”
(of course, he thought there would be no chance), “if by any chance you
find 6, you can go ahead”.
So many applied that she was able to choose the brightest. She rented a
house for a students’ hostel, hired a hall to give the lectures and a shed for
practical work. She and the male doctors working with her in the hospital
shared all the lecturing.
The day came when 14 were ready to sit for the examination. An English
official said to Dr Ida, “You mustn’t be disappointed if they all fail. They
might. They might easily”.
The men students’ results came first. One student out of 5 passed. One of
the girls divided 14 by 5 and said, “Only 3 of us can hope to get through.”
And another said, “We can’t hope to do as well as the men, so it won’t
even be as high as that.”
Dr Ida had a pleased smile on her face as she came out of the office. “You
passed, all of you”, she said, “and four of you got First Class and two of
you have gold medals”. The Medical School for Indian women was up and
CMC’S DIRECTOR TO VISIT AUSTRALIA IN AUGUST
Every couple of years, CMC’s Director gets to Australia for the annual
meeting of the Australian Vellore Board. These visits are an
acknowledgement of the support given by Australian Friends and give
opportunities for him to meet many who are
interested in the work of the College and
Dr Suranjan, Director since September, 2007,
graduated with an MBBS from Vellore in
1975 and has since gained a Diploma in
Orthopaedics, Master of Surgery
(Orthopaedics), and a Diploma in
Dr Suranjan Bhattacharji came first to
Vellore as Registrar in the Dept of Plastic and
Reconstruction Surgery in 1979 and was later Junior Lecturer and then
Clinical Assistant in that Dept.
In the mid 80s he spent just over a year in Spinal Injury Centres in
Aylesbury, UK before returning to the Dept now called Physical Medicine
This Department includes a Medical unit, an 80 bed Rehabitation Institute,
Physiotherapy , O T, Prosthetic and Orthotic Education and Services, the
Movement Analysis Laboratory and Speech Therapy services.
As Director, Dr Suranjan remains Professor of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation, a post he has held since 1995.
In 2005, he supervised the expansion of the Rehabilitation Centre,
doubling the number of patients able to be treated.
Dr Suranjan and Rehab
Institute staff with the
2008 FOV QLD 50 ANNIVERSARY DINNER
Ticket sales went so well we all but ran out of room! Threatened severe
storms held off, so on 31 May nearly 200 were present to watch Dr Frank
Garlick, a former CMC staff member, cut the 50th birthday cake and we
paid tribute to all those who have worked to enable the Qld Friends to
support CMC Vellore over these 50 years. Photos of past Chairmen who
are now deceased, Dr Felix Arden, Rev Tom Rees-Thomas, Mr Stephen
Chase, Rev Jim Sweet and Dr Keith Graham, were displayed and
representative family members were welcomed. Unfortunately Dr John
Vance was not able to attend, but the presence of the other past Chairmen,
Revs Brian Lee and John Hooper, and the present Chairman, Dr Bella
George, was acknowledged.
Mrs Claire Mainstone spoke of the street stalls of which she is the
coordinator. She stressed the commitment of those who provide goods for
sale and those who prepare for and work on the stalls, and reminded all
supporters of Vellore present that more volunteer workers are needed.
The program included a beautiful Indian classical dance by Therma
Katticaran. Rev Graham Nicholls not only spoke of his experience as a
volunteer Chaplain for a total of 30 months at CMC but also used his opera
training and experience to inspire us with the song, “Yet I will praise
You”. The Short Play version of the Vellore DVD, Home of a Healing
God, encouraged many to buy a copy of the DVD.
Besides all this, the food was excellent as always and we are grateful for
the contributions of the Prince of India and Curry Connections restaurants.
We give thanks too to the young and older members of the Broadwater
Road Church for their willing help and cooperation.
STEM CELL RESEARCH CENTRE INAUGURATED
The Centre for Stem Cell Research (CSCR), a unit of CMC Vellore
brought about by a unique cooperative venture of CMC and the Indian
Central Government’s Department of Science and Technology, was
formally inaugurated on 27 June. Described as having the potential to
transform the lives of many, the Centre has buildings that are described as
beautiful and elegant, the area abounding in gardens and lawns.
Dr Suranjan Bhattacharji, the Director, spoke of being at the threshold of
the new vision and hope that stem cells held for degenerative organs. He
concluded by praying that God, who is the source of all wisdom and
science, would transform this Centre into a beautiful offering for the
mitigation of patients’ suffering.
RAMIYA – A SCHELL EYE HOSPITAL STORY
Built on the site of Dr Ida Scudder’s first hospital, the Schell Eye Hospital
plays a significant role in the total health care available at CMC Vellore.
A few years back, while
looking up into the tree as her
father picked some pawpaws,
Ramila was struck by a falling
leaf, the stem hitting her left
eye. Her family brought her to
the Eye Hospital as quickly as
they could. The doctors had to
put stitches in the eye, which
left Ramiya with only partial
sight in her eye.
Then recently life dealt the young girl a second blow, literally. One of her
playmates accidentally jabbed 8 year old Ramiya in that left eye with her
elbow. Once again the family took the arduous bus ride from their village
to Schell Hospital.
Sadly it was not possible to save the eye and the doctor had to remove it
completely, putting in an implant to help to keep the eye socket in shape.
When that has fully healed she will return to Schell for an artificial eye.
For a few years she will need to continue attending Outpatients for regular
checks until she is old enough for it to be seen if her good eye develops
Ramiya’s parents are agricultural labourers, on daily wages, needing all
they can earn even to sustain themselves and their three daughters.
The full cost of Ramiya’s treatment would have been about $250 (Aust).
By borrowing from members of their extended family, her parents were
able to pay nearly half, the rest coming from a Children’s Fund at Schell
first set up a couple of years ago by a gift from UK Friends of Vellore.
(Thanks to UK Vellore Newsletter for this story)
AN AWARD FOR DR GEORGE CHANDY
In May, Dr George Chandy, Professor of
Gastroenterology and former Director of
CMC, along with Dr Ganesh
Gopalakrishnan, Professor and Head of
Urology, were awarded the Medical Council
of India’s coveted “Dr B C Roy Award” -
for Excellence in Leadership in Healthcare
for Dr George, and for Eminent Medical
Teacher for Dr Ganesh.
This Award was first given in 1976 to perpetuate the memory of Dr
Bidhan Chandra Roy, a Chief Minister of West Bengal, a respected
physician, a renowned freedom fighter and graduate of the Calcutta
Medical College: also both a friend and a doctor to Mahatma Gandhi.
Previous recipients of the Dr B C Roy Award include CMC staff members
Dr A P Pandey, Dr Stanley John, Dr A J Selvapandian, Dr Jacob T John
and the first head of RUHSA, Dr Daleep S Mukharji.
RETREAT FOR MARRIED COUPLES
Similar retreats conducted in the past by Frank and Val Garlick and by Dr
Sunny Philip were remembered in June when a weekend retreat for
married couples from Vellore was held at the Snehadeepam Retreat Centre.
It was led by Mr P C Mathew and his wife, Ciby who are National
Directors of Urban India Ministries, Bangalore. There were separate
programs for accompanying children.
VELLORE’S ROLE IN AIDS PREVENTION AND CARE
The Indian National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) chose CMC as
one of the few centres to train their medical officers, equipping them to
care for HIV/AIDS patients in the Anti Retroviral Therapy Centres all over
Early in June 10 senior medical offices deputed by the State Governments
of Karnataka and Orissa underwent training in Vellore, the 19th of such
programs conducted for NACO.
For most of these doctors, HIV Medicine was not a part of the curriculum
at the time of their training and these courses help them upgrade their
knowledge and skills in all aspects of HIV care.
GOING ABROAD? VISITORS WELCOME AT VELLORE
Many Australians have already experienced a warm welcome by CMC
staff as they visit Vellore.
Recently the Development Office has begun
hosting a welcome evening in the Big
Bungalow for all visitors, volunteers and
students from overseas. It is a chance for
them to meet one another and interact with
members of staff and pose questions ranging
On Katpadi Station Platform
from such things as, “How does CMC differentiate between patients who
can afford to pay and those who can’t?” to “Where can I buy nice
postcards?” or “How does my friend get from Katpadi Station to CMC?”
FORMER CMC PROFESSOR’S SON RE-VISITS VELLORE
Dr Andrew Gault, Victoria, son of the late Professor Edward Gault whose
name is revered at CMC, returned to Vellore to visit with his family in
2006. This comes from a talk Dr Gault gave to the Victorian Friends:
I must mention the Private Hospital revolution that is sweeping India.
Large chains of “for profit” hospitals and clinics have been established all
over the country and some recruit international patients. As we left
Vellore, we passed a large hospital, part of a chain. It was definitely for the
growing middle class and only for those who can pay up front. Vellore
specialises in complex medicine and surgery, combined with low-budget
grass roots programs. Hospitals like this one are usually not up to
providing the former, and have no interest in the latter as it has low
margins and is arduous.
AN ELECTIVE STUDENT’S LETTER OF APPRECIATION
Medical students from Australia and many other countries chose to go to
Vellore for their elective term. One of these students wrote recently to the
head of the unit in which he worked:
“Thanks for the wonderful experience I was able to be part of during my
elective placement. From the daily greetings of the office and reception
staff to the hard working registrars and ubiquitous consultants and
surgeons, I was always made to feel welcome. Thank you for teaching me
that the most important thing to remember in everyday life is to be blessed
by the grace of God. By meeting you and your team, my faith is justified
that your work at CMC is entirely for the benefit of the people.”
THE DVD – HOME OF A HEALING GOD
We have obtained further supplies of this greatly appreciated DVD which
focuses on a day in the life of CMC Vellore. We would be happy to post
one to you.
Please send your order with your name and address to Friends of Vellore,
19 Glencloy Street, Ferny Grove, Qld 4055, together with $10 (which
includes postage) for each DVD.
This Australia-made DVD is available through CMC Vellore support
groups in Europe, USA, NZ and in India. Several thousand rupees have
been raised for Vellore’s Person to Person patient aid program through its
use in Vellore itself.
An Australian web site with local Vellore news is now available:
The Vellore and USA sites, and their linked sites, are also great sources of
information about CMC, its programs and personnel.
www.cmch-vellore.edu or www.vellorecmc.org
STREET STALL NEWS
The Toowong and Tank Street, City, stalls continue to bring in substantial
finance to help us support Vellore. Continuing needs include:
Suitable items for sale
Help with transporting the goods
Workers at the stall
- once a month, or now and again as you are able
If you, or someone you know, can help in this, kindly contact Mrs Claire
Mainstone (3371 1332).
Regards, Brian Lee (Newsletter Editor).
QLD FRIENDS OF VELLORE OFFICE B EARERS
Chairman: Dr Bella George, 10 Highgrove Ct, The Gap 4061 (ph 3300 3919)
Vice Chairman: Rev John Hooper, 74 M eynell St, Salisbury 4107 (ph 3701 0017)
Hon. Secretary: M rs Gwenda Spencer, 22 Elgata St, The Gap 4061 (ph 3300 1542)
Hon. Treasurer: M r Richard Caitens, P O Box 374, Northgate 4013 (ph 3266 1962)
Stalls Co-ordinator: M rs Claire M ainstone, 37 Fifth Av, St Lucia, 4067 (ph 3371 1332)
Publicity Officer &
Newsletter Editor: Rev Brian Lee, 19 Glencloy Street, Ferny Grove 4055 (ph 3351 3272)