You have witnessed the great ‘surgical leap’ from the conventional to laparoscopy and now to robotic. Could you share your extensive and exciting journey?
My journey has been very exciting. Through the years, I realized that serving patients involves spending time with them, holding their hands and sometimes talking about things that are important to them. Overcoming challenges made me feel triumphant because it is intellectually stimulating. Robotic Surgery with Versius brought back the 3D image which we lost in laparoscopy. With the help of this we can enhance our surgical skills with more accuracy and safety which is a great advantage to young and not so young surgeons.
What prompts you to lay your bet on The Versius Robot?
Thirty years ago, laparoscopy was a great leap of faith and was called ‘Kind Cuts of the Surgeon.’ because it caused minimal pain and scars. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do the pioneering work in Laparoscopic surgery in India & the Asian subcontinent. Now, we have taken another giant leap with next Generation Robot, Versius by CMR Surgical. The 3-dimensional images and the easy manoeuvrability of the robotic arms empower the surgeon to achieve greater precision with ease.
What makes the Versius Robot superior to its predecessors?
Versius is backed by machine learning and empowered by artificial intelligence enabling a 3D view that gives a greater depth perception. The robotic arms move upto 720 degrees for precise & efficient alignment which is not possible with a human arm.
As head of Surgical specialties at Max Hospital, what system do you have in place so that more people can avail the facility of robotic surgery?
My vision is to extend the benefits of this technology for the common surgical conditions like gall bladder stones, hernias, gynaecological procedures and more.
Dr Pradeep Chowbey with the Versius Robotic Surgical System
How was your first pioneering experience of Laparoscopy surgery in Southeast Asia?
Through the initial years of my surgical career, I constantly felt a definite void within my practice - the inability to alleviate post-operative suffering from large incisions of surgery. Laparoscopic surgery changed it dramatically. With a quick recovery time, less post-operative pain and no large incisions, this was something that my dreams as a surgeon were made of. Laparoscopy made its way to me, it was my calling, a rather perfect fit for my sensibilities and understanding as a surgeon.
Like a phoenix, I was reborn, from the ashes of mutilating surgeries with large incisions, , to the kind cuts of surgeon
What keeps your team motivated and cohesive and how do you manage to evoke that kind of commitment from them?
Transparency, recognition of accomplishments and ownership of responsibilities are the three driving forces in my opinion to sustain a cohesive team. I am proud to have built a team that has stayed together for over three decades and we are now more like a family. We all are different and have different strength.Likewise, everyone has got their own skill sets and core competencies. Together, the collective talents form a formidable team. The aim is to empower your team and people around you. I feel the alphabet “ I “has to be “ WE “ I changes the entire perspective and approach!
I have lived by the values “think about yourself as to what you should be able to create in a given situation in life for everybody. If you are a winner the others must also be winners with you. You should not win at the cost of others
I believe on building a strong foundation that helps you face the rough and tumble of any challenge.
Research in India is still a void to be filled. What has your proactive role been in augmenting this aspect?
I very strongly propagate the evidence- based medicine. For this the ‘I’ has to go away from the ego of a surgeon. Knowledge and ego are inversely proportional to each other because more the knowledge you have about the subject less is your ego. If you have little knowledge the ego will be too big.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of academic contributions. It is critical to publish the scientific learnings for the fraternity to benefit from each other. I am humbled to have contributed as an Editor to many textbooks and silver books and hundreds of national & international publications in my journey. In 2000, I was honoured to have published the guidelines of Minimal Access Surgery for the country. The Late President of India K.R. Narayanan launched the guidelines at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
How important is family in one’s professional growth?
Behind my unwavering passion for my work and the humbling record of performing more than 90,000 surgeries with my team, lies the big support of my family. I feel blessed to have a supportive and loving family and together we make a great team too. Art is something that binds us together and we are proud collectors of some of the finest masterpieces. Infact, these art collections are our real earnings and investments both. Other than art, I unwind and reboot myself with some other hobbies like flying, mountaineering and exploring the diverse architecture of different cities around the world. I have always been a dog lover and have recently been introduced to the fascinating and loving world of horses.
What has been your guiding force in your journey?
It was the 9th of October, 2008, the day I had the honor of operating His Holiness Dalai Lama ji, and this was a turning point in my life.
With no traces of anxiety or stress, His Holiness got admitted to the hospital a day prior to the surgery. For us, our world of medicine and anatomy was taken over by mystery of the intangible. Being wheeled into the operation theatre, He had a sense of composure, helping us draw from his energies and concentrate on the nuances of our profession.
The experience of being at such close quarters with His Holiness the Dalai Lama taught me the true meaning behind practicing compassion, a subject close to his heart. His presence radiates an unmatchable aura of love, happiness, harmony and brotherhood, uniting across age, race, culture and belief. It’s another worldly feeling, witnessing the rare divinity walking amongst us in flesh and blood.
We are fortunate to be living in this era where we are blessed with Dalai Lama’s presence and wisdom. His unwavering messages of compassion and kindness resonate with me and my family and these I believe are the guiding forces in my life, directing me on the right path. For this, I will be eternally grateful to His Holiness and treasure the unconditional love and friendship that he has extended, showering us with abundant blessings.