The year 1986 is a very important year in my life.
For almost three years preceding the year 1986, despite going through several diagnostic tests and tools, Doctors could not establish the cause of my problem – occasional but intense abdominal pain. The pain could be relieved only with medication and rest for a day or two.
The Gastroenterologist whom I consulted suggested that my problem could possibly be adhesions following appendicectomy, a situation/condition that develops following a surgery for the removal of appendix. If the cauterisation process post surgery is incorrectly or incompletely done, then the condition mentioned above is said to be one of the consequences. The surgeon suggested that I undergo an exploratory surgery that could lead to resolution of the problem.
On 1st September 1986, I underwent the emergency and exploratory surgery at a hospital in Chennai. I woke up several hours later to realise that my right kidney had been removed.
I was told by the surgeon that towards the end of the exploratory surgery the operating team had noticed that my right kidney had stopped functioning. The surgeon (Gastroenterologist) consulted a Nephrologist over phone and was told that the only option available was to remove the non functional kidney immediately. Medically, the condition for which my right kidney was removed is termed as ‘congenital polycystic kidney with hydronephrosis’. The Doctors advised me rest and recuperation for couple of months followed by severe restrictions on my daily routine for a further period of time.
I was then working with Cipla as the District Sales Manager based in Chennai, my home town. The surgery meant a minimal level of strain and activity for several months so that I could recover fully. My colleagues were shocked when they heard about my surgery (at the age of 26), and could not believe considering my then fitness levels.
I wrote a letter to my then boss, the regional head, as well as the sales manager at Mumbai. Within weeks from my surgery a big team comprising of sales and marketing heads visited me at my home. I was then given a letter written by none other than the Managing Director of Cipla, Dr Y K Hamied. In that letter, Dr Hamied, even as he expressed his shock about the surgery, prayed for my speedy recovery. What was touching and reassuring for me and my family was that Dr Hamied had assured that the company would stand by my side fully during the recovery phase and process, including continued payment of my salary with no deductions whatsoever. Dr Hamied’s personal letter to me at that point of time was very touching and consoling, to say the least. I did not expect this kind of compassion and gesture from a person at the level of Dr Hamied, Managing Director, Cipla.
With the support of my colleagues at all levels and my family, I recovered from the surgery completely within a year, faster than what most people had thought.
Almost three decades later, I still fondly remember the letter from Dr Y K Hamied, Cipla. It made a huge difference to the way I felt then and I feel even now about Cipla. That is why Cipla is, and will always remain ‘Special’ for me.