Oct 27, 2009
Bangalore: A little known factor and a matter of pride for all Mangaloreans is the presence of a highly qualified specialist paediatric orthopedic surgen Dr James Alfred Fernandes, who is presently working in the Sheffield Children’s Hospital, UK, as the leader of the 15-member team of UK-based doctors.
“He is one of the well-known names in paediatric orthopedic surgery and is highly regarded among his peers in UK and elsewhere,’’ remarked Dr Patil while warmly appreciating the unstinted cooperation and wholehearted support extended by Dr Fernandes.
Dr Patil disclosed that eminent heart surgeon Dr Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya, who is also a Mangalorean, and many others, had spoken very highly of Dr Fernandes, who just turned 48.
“I met Dr Fernandes at a conference last year. When we were discussing about the hospital and told him about my dream of conducting the Vachana project to help the young children, Dr Fernandes volunteered to support. After frequent telephone calls and email messages, we were able to finalise the entire programme,’’ he said.
Dr Fernandes and his team of specialist doctors as well as three experienced nurses have come down to Bangalore on their own without charging anything for their services. “We did not have to pay even for the to and fro airfare. All that we did is line up the patients and ensured the availability of operation theatre and other facilities, including the equipment and materials, besides arranging for local accommodation and food,’’ Dr Patil said explaining that the UK team of doctors would start their day at dawn with necessary planning and continuous surgery and visit the patients for review and follow-up till late in the evening and start planning for next days surgery.
“Thus, the UK team of doctors led by Dr Fernandes would begin their day between 4.30 and 5.30 in the morning and go on till 9 to 10 in the night along with the hospital’s doctors and staff,’’ he said pointing out that a conservative estimate of the total cost of the Sparsh Vachana programme would be Rs 1 crore, which would have been manifold in the normal course. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and PLRS lead, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Barnsley District General Hospital.
In fact, Bangalore Archbishop Bernard Moras, who visited the hospital to meet the patients and the team of doctors, expressed his pleasant surprise and joy that an alumni of St John’s Hospital, Bangalore, where he had served as a Director, had risen to such an eminent position in the medical profession in his chosen field in a highly competitive country like UK.
"When I heard that a Dr Fernandes is leading the team of expert doctors from UK, I wondered to myself whether he was from Goa or Maharashtra. I am really glad to learn that Dr Fernandes hails from Mangalore and had studied and practiced in St John’s Hospital when I was its Director,’’ he said hoping that Dr Fernandes will become the guiding spirit and role model from many more budding doctors and help the less fortunate sections of society.
The Archbishop congratulated Dr Fernandes and his professional colleagues as also the management of Sparsh hospital, especially Dr Patil.
Taking time off to speak to Daijiworld from his busy schedule of round-the-clock surgeries, Dr Fernandes said he was proud to be associated with Sparsh and its Vachana programme made possible because of the pro-active role of Dr Patil. ``This is our contribution to society. I and my colleagues, who have come all the way from UK, do not consider our work as charity even though we have spent from our own pockets and do not charge anything for our services,’’ he said.
To a specific question on whether he would consider his involvement in a similar programme in his alma mater St John’s Hospital or even his native place of Mangalore at hospitals like Fr Muller’s or Kasturba Medical College, he said: ``If such an opportunity arises, we will be too glad to help. But it needs enormous expenditure and commitment in selecting deserving patients, ensuring necessary equipment and material besides follow-up action. It is a long-term commitment and nothing is impossible if there is a will, zeal and determination.’’
Currently, Dr Fernandes is serving as the Examiner for FRCS (Tr & Ortho) in UK and specialist adviser for NICE, UK, besides being the Deputy Head of Training for Trauma and Orthopaedic surgery, South Yorkshire and Humberside Deanery. He is also the Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Sheffield, and Secretary, British Limb Reconstruction Society, UK.
Dr Fernandes is a key member of the British Orthopaedic Association, British Society for Children’s Orthopaedic Surgery, British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, British Limb Reconstruction Society, Skeletal Dysplasia Group and British Medical Association.
Born on April 13, 1961, at Kulshekar, in Mangalore, Dr Fernandes, who is affectionately called as Jemma by his family members and close friends, is the son of late Natalia and R D Fernandes. Ninth among a large family of ten children, he did his early schooling at St Joseph’s Primary School, Kulshekar, and secondary education at Padua High School, Mangalore, and pre-university education at St Aloysius College, Mangalore.
Dr Fernandes did his MBBS from St John’s Medical College, Bangalore in 1983 and practiced there. In 1986, he obtained his Diploma in Orthopedics at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Mangalore and did his Master of Surgery in Orthopedics from MR Medical College, Gulbarga in 1990 and passed his Diploma in National Board Examination for Orthopedics (DNB Ortho) in 1991. He completed his Master of Orthopaedic Surgery (Mch. Orth) from University of Liverpool, UK in 1995. He passed the Inter-Collegiate Board Examination in Trauma and Orthopedic Surgery, London, UK in 1998 and became a Fellow of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, FRCS, Glasgow, UK in 2001.
A brilliant student, Dr Fernandes had won the most coveted prize for Best Outgoing Performance at the Master of Orthopaedic Surgery Examination at the Liverpool University, UK, in 1995, the Best Outgoing Student Dr K P Nayak Endowment Award in his D’Ortho Examination at Manipal as also the first prize in the D’ Ortho Examination held by the Mangalore University in 1986 besides First Class in General Surgery, Pathology, Ophthalmology, Microbiology distinction for Preventive and Social Medicine in his MBBS Examination in 1984.
Dr Fernandes is credited with a large number of publications and medical papers on a wide range of subjects in paediatric orthopaedics, limb reconstructive surgery, paralytic conditions in childhood surgery, limb lengthening and correction of deformity in the lower limbs of children with osteogenesis imperfecta, implantation of a soft tissue expander before operation for clubfoot in children etc.
He has the rare distinction of contributing several chapters in medical textbooks on advanced examination techniques in orthopaedics pertaining to orthopaedic examination techniquies in children, genetic disorders of Indian subcontinent and unusual indications regarding elastic stable intramedullary nailing. He ia also associated with several research projects as lead investigator.