Opinion » Open Page

Updated: December 8, 2013 00:57 IST

A great doctor & an excellent human being

Dr. V. Gurumoorthy
Comment (9)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
File photo of Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam
File photo of Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam

His methodical patient-centric approach, his concern for the poor, his strict adherence to medical ethics and his sacred commitment to mass transfer all his wisdom to the young aspirants around are something phenomenal

In late 50s, one day I was simply thrilled to see a brilliant youngster of less than 30 years, a handsome physician, posted as clinical professor of medicine at the Stanley Medical College and Hospital, Madras, now Chennai. Later, over the years, I considered myself especially fortunate to be his house surgeon, senior house surgeon, post-graduate and assistant professor.

A palpable change followed. Wherever he went, undergraduates and postgraduates would throng him to listen to each word of his — in rapt attention to know the theoretical and clinical aspects of internal medicine and his assessment of the latest developments in the field.

It was more than a learning experience to see him examine a patient. His bedside manners, his language, both verbal and non-verbal, his methodical and relevant history-taking, his keen observation, his thorough clinical examination, his inferences after collecting and processing all the clinical data, his summarising the whole case ending with a provisional diagnosis, with more than 30 students and doctors around all the time, in his soft melodious voice and in chaste, flawless English, was a sheer delight to watch and listen. Day in and day out, bed after bed, patient after patient, this well-orchestrated symphony of art and science, freely flowed.

More than a decade later, in the Government General Hospital, Madras, during his grand rounds, a patient with a vague and dull retrosternal chest pain of a few weeks’ duration, without much of positive clinical findings, was presented to him as a problem case.

My teacher keenly observed the blood vessels at his neck and looked for arterial pulsations at the feet and ankle. Then he took hold of both his upper limbs to feel the radial artery pulsations at the wrists. For a full two-three minutes, he intently concentrated on the characteristics of the pulsations. He turned around and told the eagerly waiting junior audience that the patient was having an abnormal ballooning of the great artery emerging from the heart. He asked me to take the patient safely to the cardiology and radiology departments for detailed study. My teacher was absolutely right. The patient had aneurysm of the aorta. That was the depth of his clinical acumen.

Cases, such as this, running into hundreds, remain dormant but fresh, cryopreserved in my memory.

His constant longing and striving for attaining near perfection in all the specialties of the medical field and spending his entire Sundays in browsing the world’s leading medical journals, many a time, left me awe-struck.

For well over five decades, medicos at all levels had walked fast behind him to catch up with higher knowledge and clinical wisdom, even more than that, for noble values of life.

His very proximity turns even the dull ones into active learners. Just by simply simulating this exemplary teacher over time, many get transformed into ideal medical men.

His methodical patient-centric approach, his concern for the poor, his strict adherence to medical ethics and his sacred commitment to mass transfer all his wisdom to the young aspirants around are something phenomenal.

In this hell of a world, the ordinary and the mundane often mistake the soft and gentle nature of others as weakness and go on inflicting injuries and insults with impunity. Even in adverse circumstances, he stood and walked tall, maintaining his integrity and equanimity, unruffled. He ever remained simple but firm, unassuming but assertive and humble but rigidly straightforward.

Many rewards and recognitions, honours and laurels adorned his path of perfection.

Simple chronological aging does not form a deterrent in his relentless pursuit of excellence.

My teacher is a great clinician; a fine researcher; a teacher par excellence; a perfectionist to the core; a true gentleman and, above all, an excellent human being — a rare combination indeed.

Under the shade of this great personality’s nurture, I learnt medicine in its true sense and perspective. I salute this living legend, the teacher of the teachers in silence, loaded with love, reverence and gratitude.

I opted to remain cryptic to the end, not to mention the name of my teacher.

I cannot contain myself any longer.

Professor Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam — KVT for short — these three alphabets, firmly bound together, simply cast a mesmerising spell on the world’s medical fraternity.

(The writer is a former Professor of Medicine, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai. Email:

More In: Open Page | Opinion

Acharya Devo Bhava

Posted on: Dec 9, 2013 at 20:45 IST

It is heart warming to go through the narration.
Hats off Dr.Gurumurthy.

from:  Dr.CSBR.Prasad
Posted on: Dec 9, 2013 at 19:12 IST

I heartily second everything Dr Gurumurthy has said in his tribute
to Dr Thiruvengadam. Our family were his patients when we were in
Madras for over three decades, especially my mother. Even later she
would always go back to see him whenever she went to India.

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Dec 9, 2013 at 16:05 IST

It is very rare these days to see Dr like his guru. Doctors now a days
rely more on diagnostic results, rather observing patient and identify
problem even for known problems. Author's "For a full two-three minutes,
he intently concentrated on the characteristics of the pulsations" is
awesome. Even after years of study and getting multiple MD's it is rare
to see Dr of this observation. Great salute to legendary Doctor and his
quality of practice explained pensively by his student is adorable.

from:  Siva
Posted on: Dec 9, 2013 at 12:23 IST

we seriously need people like him.

from:  harbajan
Posted on: Dec 9, 2013 at 11:28 IST

I heartily appreciate Dr.V.Guru moorthy for presenting his great teacher Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam. While reading it self, my teacher and my professor of Medicine late Dr. K.B. Krisna Mohan came in to my mind. He is a great teacher and physician. His hand washing technique is a visual treat. His prescriptons carry instructions in Telugu also. He represents tablets as circles, capsules as tubular rectangles and syrups in the shape of spoons!etcetera.His theory class always Extends 30 to 40 minutes extra. Students wait for his class and students from other classes also attend his classes. He was MD and colleague professors used to tell that he is fit to teach any thing above MD also! When he retired at 55 due to change of rules indeed he felt happy. When he was principal of college,when students approach him with anger,they can't really exhibit anger when they go to him. His smile and composure makes them cool down.My respects to my great teacher.

Posted on: Dec 8, 2013 at 14:27 IST

A great article about a great teacher. Reminds me of another stalwart of that era neurosurgeon Prof. B. Ramamurthi.

from:  Ramu
Posted on: Dec 8, 2013 at 13:36 IST

A really moving story about a great doctor, authored by a great student, and a great
professor. Great men, make others around them more great than themselves. A country,s
Greatness depends upon the greatness of people of that country. I offer my salutations to
The great student, who gave a marvelous account of his much revered professor. I
sincerely pray that as years roll on, India's greatness will always be on the ascent by the
Increase in the percentage of great people stage by stage. The increase in the percentage
Of greatness should be there in all areas of human activities. That should happen in all
Professions, services , in the literary field etc. That greatness should be there especially in
The political arena as well, as we find that there is considerable erosion of values in the
Management of state, and the have nots are staring at emptiness and find it difficult to

from:  C p Chandra das
Posted on: Dec 8, 2013 at 10:13 IST

Highly inspiring. Devotion and dedication are his forte/

from:  ssr
Posted on: Dec 8, 2013 at 05:12 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note: Submissions on the Open Page are the extended comments of readers and in no way do they reflect the views of The Hindu.... »



Recent Article in Open Page

Let not asthma deter you ever

History has seen a number of great men and women suffering from asthma but they went on undeterred, working towards their achievements. »