Wearing Heart On Sleeve
25,000 angioplasty and 50,000 angiography—having this astronomical numbers in his kitty of successful interventions into heart, this heart doctor surely deserves to ‘wear’ heart on his sleeve. And Dr Ashok Seth (Padma Shree), Chairman, Escort Heart Institute and an internationally renowned angioplasty expert, does so literally figuratively. Behind his big arm chair in his office is hung a painting wherein a small girl has delineated him as a hoary man, symbolising his vast experience, with a picture of heart flanking his right hand as if he were wearing it as a trophy.
For him, angioplasty is not mere a mechanical opening of the clogged arteries but a philosophy too. He wants angioplasty to be entwined with soft music. The other day you might happen to witness a ‘doctored’ concert somewhere in Delhi where you would be surprised to see him in the avatar of a bard, singing ghazals. He has organised many a concert. Real forte of this heart maestro is certainly not singing but when he does, he drowns himself in the musical ambience and nonetheless he sings from his heart. His poise while he navigates through the clogged arteries and the smile that always reigns widening its net of charm could be traced to his love for music. His winsome mien instills a confidence in the patient too. You would not be faulted if you call him a humming and singing doctor. And if you are also among the audience, be sure you will have the likes of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Ram Vilas Paswan as your company.
He wanted to make the whole hospital a musical one. If he has his way, as a heart patient enters the Cath Lab for the procedure, he will be accosted by a soft and transporting kind of music, melting into the air. And do not be surprised if you find Dr Seth himself humming while conducting angioplasty. The little spare time that he finds back home he does practise singing too. He avers: “Drowning oneself in the music is like the best form of meditation. If the patient happens to hear music in the Cath Lab, he will also be worryless. It will not divert the attention of the doctor. In fact it will enhance his concentration and angioplasty result will be better.”
There was a time when he worked as second man in Escort with Dr Naresh Trehan, the veritable toast for the heart patients once upon a time. He had the guts to say with panache that ‘bypass could be bypassed’. And a time came when this cliché of his was literally enacted too. The profile of Dr Seth, a prominent interventional cardiologist, will not be complete without that very telling incident in his career. Dr Seth had left Escort for Max Healthcare once. Then, he happened to have a brush with political cardiology of sorts when he had an unusual knock of a patient on the door. Ram Vilas Paswan, the erstwhile Union Minister, refused to come under the knife of Dr Naresh Trehan and offered himself for the catheter of Dr Seth. Though Paswan’s runaway from Dr Trehan speaks volumes about Dr Seth’s ability as an angioplasty expert, his humility always takes the better of him. He says: “They are big people, I am still learning the rope. It is God overhead who guides my hands in the Cath Lab.”
He says: “The most ideal day in life of our country would be when a healthy person will come to a doctor just to know whether his health markers are alright or need some correction. I, as an expert in cardiac matters, can say for sure that keeping a watchful eye at the markers that tell of the health of the heart, is akin to ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. It pains me to see people coming very late to me for treatment. I often think, an early prevention or intervention could have spared the person much of his money and time and saved his health.”
By D Kumar