Spe­cial re­port by Evan Mor­gan

Townsville Bulletin - - NQ Life -

v i l l e h a s t h e o n l y r e g i o n a l urog­y­nae­col­ogy train­ing unit in Aus­tralia.

He was nom­i­nated for the 2011 Aus­tralian of the Year Awards and was short­listed to the fi­nal 50.

But Prof Rane is also driven to help those in need in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

While tour­ing In­dia in 1999 demon­strat­ing new sur­gi­cal tech­niques, he went to the Gosha Hos p i t a l f o r Women i n t h e Trip­li­cane slums of Chen­nai for the first time.

‘‘ It was a hos­pi­tal des­ig­nated for the poor­est of the poor, the down­trod­den of south In­dia.

‘‘ I spent one day there, but I felt I had been there for ever and I felt this is the place I would re­ally like to do my best and help."

Year af­ter year Prof Rane has re­turned to the hos­pi­tal, lead­ing a team of nurses and doc­tors from Aus­tralia to train the lo­cal staff and per­form op­er­a­tions on women with fis­tu­las and pro­lapses.

The pro­ject has be­come in­ter­na­tional with sur­gi­cal teams from the US and Aus­tria also go­ing to the hos­pi­tal, the only recog­nised urog­y­nae­co­log­i­cal train­ing cen­tre in In­dia for one bil­lion peo­ple.

In recog­ni­tion for his work the fis­tula ward at the hos­pi­tal was named af­ter his wife Paula in 2007.

The cou­ple met in Belfast in 1993 where they worked at the Ul­ster Hos­pi­tal, of­ten be­ing called on to help vic­tims of bomb ex­plo­sions.

On their first date at Prof Rane’s hos­pi­tal flat they had to dive un­der the din­ing ta­ble be­cause of a bomb blast 500m away.

They reg­u­larly do­nate money to the fis­tula ward and a bur­sary, the Murli Rane Ora­tion named af­ter Prof Rane’s fa­ther, funds a Gosha doc­tor to train over­seas each year.

Women come from up to 2000km away hop­ing for an op­er­a­tion that will change their lives. ‘‘ The Pro­fes­sor Ajay Rane at the Townsville Day Surgery

Photo: EVAN MOR­GAN Pro­fes­sor Ajay Rane at Gosha Hos­pi­tal with one of his pa­tients much time try­ing to save lives this was some­thing you could not just sit down and ac­cept."

He de­cided to make a Bol­ly­wood movie to cre­ate aware­ness about the is­sue de­spite not know­ing the first thing about film­mak­ing.

‘‘ The grass­roots tac­tic would be p r o d u c i n g a n e n t e r t a i n ment Bol­ly­wood movie two hours long with four songs.’’

The re­sult was Ri­wayat ( see story right), a tale of three women who go through the trau­mas and chal­lenges of be­ing forced to have a fe­male in­fan­ti­cide.

Since its re­lease in May last year the film has won ac­co­lades around

Pa­tients wait for surgery at Gosha Hos­pi­tal the world and Prof Rane says it has been a rev­e­la­tion to see how peo­ple re­act af­ter see­ing the movie.

‘‘ This movie has changed my life be­cause it has given me a great cause to sup­port again.

‘‘ My whole 15-20 years as a doc­tor has been to cham­pion women’s causes and women’s health."

Hav­ing suc­cess­fully turned the fis­tula ward at the Gosha Hos­pi­tal over 10 years into an al­most self­suf­fi­cient cen­tre, Prof Rane has been look­ing for a new chap­ter in his life.

When hold­ing a work­shop in Chen­nai last year he was asked by Prof Pushpa Chaun­d­hary from the Ma­ter­nity and Women’s Hos­pi­tal in Kath­mandu if he could come to Nepal.

‘‘ I thought, well maybe that is my next fate.

‘ ‘ I t i s a very i mpov­er­ished nation and I be­lieve Nepal has an even worse bur­den of disease than in Chen­nai.

‘‘ I hope the con­di­tion of the women there will move me and my col­leagues suf­fi­ciently so we would run an­other cen­tre there based on the suc­cess­ful Chen­nai model.

‘‘ If it is the place where gods live then ob­vi­ously you be­come closer to God.

‘‘ But I think it would be won­der­ful to carry on with what we have done in Chen­nai in many other places and stim­u­late other col­leagues to adopt a sim­i­lar model to set up these ed­u­ca­tional cen­tres with sur­gi­cal ex­per­tise to help women to em­power them."

In the In­dian city of Nasik an­other of Prof Rane’s pa­tients who had re­cent surgery for a bowel fis­tula is now healed and happy.

‘‘ Kamal was a nurs­ing stu­dent and she wanted to kill her­self be­cause her life was not worth liv­ing, but now she is a dif­fer­ent per­son.

‘‘ These con­di­tions don’t hap­pen in the de­vel­oped world so if you go to un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries to help these women it does give you a sense of ful­fil­ment in life.

‘‘ I think that is what life is all about,’’ he said.

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