Dr Lalit Mohan Pant, a government doctor and the only laparoscopic surgeon authorised by the government to work throughout the state, claims to have achieved that feat in a career spanning more than three decades. At 57, he keeps moving from from one family planning camp to another and has eight more years to go before he hangs up his scalpel.
The MP chapter of the Association of Surgeons of India awarded him 10 gold medals between 1994 and 2004 for carrying out the highest number of family planning operations, then went on to name the award after Dr Pant.
“Touch wood, not one operation has been a failure so far,” he says, and denies he is chasing any records. And yet he can tell you the precise time when he performed his 3,00,000th operation on December 5.
“I wanted to do something different but never realised I would end up doing what most qualified surgeons would not engage in,” he says, agreeing that his chosen field does not get the same recognition as other medical fields do. “Why would one like to befriend a cardiothoracic surgeon or someone conducting sterilisations?” Even his own family wasn’t impressed with his choice in the beginning, he says.
In 2002, he made it to the Limca Book of Records for 27,578 surgeries that year, 816 of them in one day. He has been to thousands of government camps, and attended mostly to women — his total count of 3.03 lakh includes only 12,000 male sterilisations.
He claims he needs 20 seconds for one laparoscopic tube tying (LTT) procedure. In this permanent sterilisation procedure, a laparoscope is used as a minimal invasive instrument through the abdomen to tie up the fallopian tubes.
A typical camp sees him alerting the organisers to keep the patients ready half an hour before he arrives. He begins the job immediately.
“I get into a kind of trance when I am on the job,” he says, when asked whether doing the same thing over decades has reduced his interest. Married to an IAS officer, he is posted at a government hospital in Indore but works in several districts, allotting a day to each of them.
After every camp, he notes down the name and address of the patient. It takes him some effort to lug the bundles of notebooks when he shows the proof that has been certified by the Indian Medical Association.
Born to an Army officer, he has varied interests dating from his student days: from swimming 12 hours in the Narmada to cycling 5,000 km between MP and Maharashtra to theatre.
Dr Pant has been passing on his skills to colleagues, and says it’s time the process was institutionalised. A Centre for Reproductive Surgical Skill, Research and Counselling in Indore has been in the works for some time. Funded by the National Rural Health Mission, the centre could possibly have Dr Pant in the chair.
He says he has also devoted some time to mastering a recanalisation technique to reverse sterilisation operations.
If the doctor had been working every day of the year for 30 y, it would mean he did about 27 laparoscopic sterilization surgeries per day. How much time does each such surgery take? Also, the instrument has to be cleaned and sanitized after each surgery, and that too would take time. The doctor's claim has to be examined very carefully!
Here again it is the women who must suffer. Vasectomies are probably a better, faster, cheaper, more efficient and less painful operation, and yet of the 3 lakh odd operations he performed, the esteemed doc reports having done only abt 12000 of them. Wake up, men of India. It is your responsibility too, to see that this country achieves greatness. A very important way of ensuring that is keeping our population under control and the rate no more than at replacement ration (Hum do Hamare do, that is.)