CHENNAI: At 27, Sanjey Dey was not much of a walker. Considering he weighed 348 kg, it wasn’t surprising that he had spent the most part of the last two years in a bed-ridden state. The man from Guwahati, who had quickly built up a business, went to seed after his company crashed. “He was already heavy but he put on 200 kgs in two-and-a-half-years after that. Out of sheer depression, all he did was eat,” explained Dr Rajkumar Palaniappan, who was the only one who agreed to attempt Bariatric surgery on him, at the Apollo Hospital here.
Coming in 2012 with a scary Body Mass Index (BMI) of 112.5, not only did he have every one of the usual obesity-related disorders, but also sleep apnea. “This meant that he had to use a mask and sedatives to get a night’s rest,” added the surgeon. Determined to do something, he contacted hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai to get a gastric bypass done. He was turned down for a simple reason — “They said that they didn’t have the operating tables to support his extra-large body,” said Dr Rajkumar.
After he read about Apollo’s robotic surgery wing online, he contacted them and asked if they could help him walk and they agreed.
Getting from Guwahati to Chennai was an ordeal as airlines were not willing to accommodate him. “He was too large to use a train berth, so he travelled on the floor on a special gurney,” said the doctor, “From the station, he had to again be brought by stretcher to the hospital by a special ambulance.” Though Sanjey was keen on getting the surgery done the next morning, doctors prepped him for a week before they decided to go ahead with the surgery robotically.
“Not only did the table support his weight, we needed the robotic arms because they could penetrate through 8 cm of fat,” he added. After a successful two-hour-long surgery on April 30, he returned to his room, “We were really amazed that he got up and went to the loo by himself that evening,” said Dr Rajkumar. Over the next couple of days, Sanjey apparently lost 8 kgs before flying back home — this time managing to board his flight without a stretcher.
This is apparently the largest bariatric case handled bariatrically in Asia.
If you thought that being operated on by a robot in Delhi, operated by a specialist in Chennai, was a thing of sci-fi movies, guess again. The Apollo Institute of Robotic Surgery is hoping to be the first to standardize the procedure in India. “All we need are the ISDN secure lines,” said Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals. “If they manage to resolve the 4G spectrum soon and allocate us the bandwidth, we would be more than happy to try it,” he added.