Doctor Compassion - Dr Vinaya Kumar

His soft-spoken demeanour and kind nature are a true testament to the compassion that Dr Vinaya brings to his work. One of the city’s most renowned ENT surgeons, Dr Vinaya has received a host of accolades which, while impressive, are secondary to his clear focus on serving people in the best way he can – through his medical practice. He was the first doctor to start the cochlear implant programme in south India in 1994, and to date he has performed these surgeries for over 800 children and adults, which is the highest in the country for a single clinic. He was instrumental in helping set up an NGO called SAHI that helps poor children with hearing impairment.

Tell us a bit more about SAHI.
In November 2004, a group of ENT surgeons, audiologists, and hospital management personnel united to form SAHI: Society to Aid the Hearing Impaired. Since it was established, SAHI has been trying to address the problem of hearing impairment in poor children by conducting camps in remote areas of the state. Children with learning disabilities or hearing loss are given hearing aids, and those with ear disorders are given free ear surgeries. SAHI played a significant role in convincing the Chief Minister to include the cochlear implant surgery for children in the
Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme. Through the programme, all poor families can avail the benefit of the surgery.

What are the primary causes of deafness?
In utero, the inner ear, whole hearing apparatus is formed in the first three months of pregnancy. During that time, if the mother develops a fever or uses some Ayurvedic medicines that are not good for her, they can interfere with the development of the ear, because the ear is very sensitive. There can be damage during delivery too, since about 40% of women deliver their babies at home. If the child doesn’t cry upon birth, the first structure that gives way is the ear, since it is so sensitive. If there is no proper immunisation, it can cause damage to the inner ear. Anaemia is also a major cause of deafness, and since most women in villages have low haemoglobin during pregnancy, it is likely that the child may be born with hearing impairment.

What does the SAHI do to help?
We use the media to educate people and spread awareness, so people know there can be a cure to deafness. Children with severe to profound hearing loss are helped financially by the NGO to undergo the cochlear implant surgery, which is a state-of-the-art ear surgery.

You are one of the city’s most accomplished ENT surgeons. What do you attribute your success to?
My message is that if I am successful and there are 100 people not as successful as me, it’s not because I am better or have more skill or knowledge. It is just that God has put me in this place. It is a privilege to help those children because God helps those children through us.

So I get a great amount of pleasure and satisfaction from it. It is an investment; the more you help them, God will repay you in multiples. There are four T’s that make everything: Time, Touch, Treasure, and Talent. All these are God given. When you share them with others they grow, when you keep them to yourself they don’t.

Any parting thoughts?
It is the group – our whole team – that helps in this initiative. The doctors and the hospital management at Apollo help us. Sunrisers Hyderabad are our brand ambassadors for the girl child initiative. That’s how we spread awareness. We have some non-medical people and industrialists who help us raise funds, too. Although we started in a small way, the organisation has grown very big. We are now looking for younger people to take over. Everyone should do a little bit since every drop counts.      --- as told to Suneela