Dr. Atul Abhyankar

My journey in interventional cardiology started in 1989 and interventional cardiology has occupied a very large part of the last 21 years of my life. I am a passionate traveler and believe that the journey is as enjoyable as the destination. And so even if I have not arrived at the destination, the journey so far has been very envisioning, enthralling, enlightening and enriching. I have been particularly lucky to get in easily into the branch of my dreams, to be trained under some of the most gifted and genius teachers and visionary leaders of the cardiology. Cardiology has literally taken me places. I travelled far & wide in practically all corners of the world sometime to learn, sometimes to teach. There was something to learn from every doctor in Australia & USA and there was a great pride in providing some new ideas to the very people from whom I had come to learn & be appreciated by them. It was a great challenge to set up a new interventional cardiology service & be the sole interventional cardiologist for the whole country of Oman. The 'kick' of performing angioplasty live in front of a big audience in my own live course in Muscat is indescribable and so was the elation while presenting my first oral paper in one of the major halls at American Heart Association conference in New Orleans. The most memorable moment in my academic career was to be appointed as editorial consultant to Cath Cardiovascular Interventions (the only interventional peer reviewed interventional cardiology journal at that time) at a very young age and to receive a hand written appreciation letter from Dr. Frank Hildner (one of the greatest and longest serving editor) for my elaborate review on one of the papers.

From 2001, I started a new chapter in my career & life in Surat. A lot of people were surprised & shocked at my decision to work in a relatively small city after having travelled around the world. But in last 10 years I never resented my decision.

Cardiology has also showed me varied & vivid faces & facets of human life & behavior. I have been sometimes been overwhelmed by the faith & trust imposed in me. I have had patients travelling to Surat from Muscat, Fiji, UK, Dubai, Africa, Sri Lanka and USA not because they had no other options but just because of their personal faith. I remember of a Bangladesh patient during one of my visits to Dhaka to perform angioplasty. This person told me that he did not think there was a single good cardiologist in Bangladesh and within 15 minutes of meeting he was willing to get his angioplasty done with me with unshakable faith. Irrespective of reasons of his faith the onus of keeping his trust was an enormous responsibility. Umpteen number of times I have been compared to god by my patients. While it may be very elevating one has to learn to keep his feet firmly grounded to earth. On the other hand there a few people who for some reason have very little if at all any faith in you. Over a period of time I have learnt that it is sometimes due to denial, ignorance, misinformation about doctor or disease, inability to comprehend the situations and make quick decisions. I have seen patients being hostile even after they have been successfully treated and some of them must have their reasons, sadly some of this behavior is purely with a hope to pressurize the doctor & hospital to reduce the bill. I have seen poor patients bringing me sweets for their successful treatment even after mortgaging the house for the treatment bill and I have also seen very rich patients trying to any extent to negotiate for some discount sometimes out of psychological compulsions. I have seen patients making bold decisions in absence of any relatives while lying on angiography bed and I have seen stubborn people remotely related to the patient obstructing vital emergency treatments. All in all many happy and may be a few grumpy faces have always taught me more about human life. While the agony of not saving some lives hurts deeply the enormous joy of saving many lives more than compensates for it. Cardiology has given me many friends out of my patients and sometimes I am happy to be at the receiving end of the advice from them.

I am thankful to god to have chosen me for this profession and may his kindness be expressed through my actions.