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Doctor plucked from top Indian hospital saving cancer patients in Nakuru

By Kiprotich Chepkoit | July 12th 2016
Dr Navin Raina instructs other doctors at Medihelal hospital on how to use endoscopy machine while conducting diagnosis on 13th May, 2015 {PHOTO BY BONIFACE THUKU}

To a majority of Kenyans, India is the place to visit when it comes to medical tourism.

This has largely been fuelled by lack of advanced medical facilities and equipment in Kenyan hospitals. And even when the equipment are available, patients are kept on the waiting list for too long. Some even die while still waiting for their day to come. It is for this reason fundraisers for people seeking treatment in India have become common practice.

But some Indian doctors are seeking to stem the tide. They left their beloved families in India and have to endure solitary lives thousands of miles away from home, all to ensure Kenyans don't have to organise fundraisers for their loved ones to travel to India for treatment.

Navin Chander Raina, who is based in Nakuru's Mediheal Hospital, is one such doctor.

Plucked from the prestigious Fortis Hospital in Mohali, India, where he had worked for 15 years, Dr Raina has helped set up the first Laparoscopic Unit in Nakuru County. The surgical services director came to Kenya in February last year.

The specialist doctor in general surgery, cancer surgery and advanced laparoscopic surgery has in the past 15 months operated on 220 patients.

"I have done exceptional work in my field in service for the ailing population by starting the first minimal access surgery unit in Nakuru County. And on seeing the plight of cancer patients, I undertook many major surgical procedures successfully, many of them for the first time in the region," said the soft spoken doctor from Kashmir.

Raina said after completing his post-graduate studies in general surgery, he practised general and cancer surgery in India. He later went to the US for more training and a fellowship in minimal access surgery. Upon return to India, he popularised laparoscopic surgery (key hole surgery) in and around Chandigarh.

Laparoscopy, he said, is operating inside the body cavity using a rigid tube which has a chip and light attached to it and the images from inside the body cavity are expressed on a monitor outside.

"These images are used as guide to perform different operations employing long instruments," he said.

The 62-year-old said during his first day in theatre in Kenya, he operated on a patient and removed the largest ever reported appendix in a human being.

"It shocked all of us. I was too shocked because it was my first day in the theatre in a Kenyan hospital and never had I come across such in the 40 years that I have served in various medical facilities across the world," he said.

Raina said the 27cm appendix was from a 16-year-old girl who had been wrongly diagnosed thus delaying treatment and removal making the appendix grow to threatening levels.

"It was a breakthrough in the medical field ultimately breaking the longest known of 26.3cm. But I am happy I made a difference in my first day in Kenya," he said.

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