Events

A saga of service

Dr. August Otto Beine

Dr. August Otto Beine

Dr. August Otto Beine, 81, displays an energy that defies his age as he walks down the corridor of Sivananda Rehabilitation Centre (SRC), Hyderabad, his place of work for 35 years now. Dr. Beine, the chief medical officer and orthopaedic surgeon, calls this place, which has shaped his life and career, home. Dr. Beine has completed 50 years in treating leprosy patients.

A pioneer in reconstructive orthopaedic surgery, he is recognised for having modified existing practices and thereby ensuring a better success rate. He shows us a piece of paper on which he has noted down a crucial date. “I arrived in Bombay by ship on October 31, 1964.”

About his first journey to India he says, “It’s a long story.” He was pursuing his graduation at University of Munster, Germany when “one of my dermatology professors who had visited India said that at a leprosy centre in Kerala, there was no one to treat patients after an Irish doctor had recently left. He asked if I’d be interested in working in Kerala.”

After his graduation, Dr. Beine came to India and worked as medical officer at Damien Institute, Trichur for two years. Egged on by his professor who felt he should gain work experience before pursuing higher studies, he worked in Kerala. “I returned to Germany in 1966,” says Dr. Beine. But the Indian connection that had been established was hard to break. Dr. Beine returned and worked as an ortho surgeon and medical officer at the Leprosy Relief Rural Centre in Salem district, and put in a few more years at Damien Institute, Trichur. In 1981, he joined SRC and has stayed with the institute since then. He would perform corrective surgeries on the limbs of leprosy patients.

Dr. S. Ananth Reddy, chief administrator, SRC, says, “Dr. Beine has performed over 6,500 surgeries and has modified existing surgical methods.”

Dr. Beine was one among five siblings and the decision to work away from home wasn’t easy. “My younger brother, who was working in a factory, supported me financially when I was finishing my studies,” he recalls.

Each year, Dr. Beine took a break in summer. He used this free time to study theology in Germany. “It took me several years to become a priest, in 1992,” he says.

Dr. Beine was awarded the ‘Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany’ in 2013. To receive this award, Germany’s highest civilian honour, protocol demanded that Dr. Beine travel to New Delhi to attend a special ceremony. But he was adamant that if he is felicitated, it would have to be in Hyderabad where he is surrounded by people with whom he works. As a mark of respect to his service, the German ambassador to India visited Hyderabad and handed over the award to him at SRC.


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Printable version | May 29, 2022 3:50:37 am | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/events/ahead-of-world-leprosy-day-meet-dr-august-otto-beine/article6811669.ece