A Candid Talk with Kashmir’s ‘Superman’ Doctor

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Jyotsna Bharti

During present pandemic, doctors hailed as ‘knights in shining armour’ have bet all ideas of marvel heroes, celebrity love, action and thriller. In this vein, micro-blogging site Twitter over this weekend flagged a Kashmiri doctor, Dr Shahnawaz B Kaloo as ‘Superman’ in their tweet.

Twitter asked its users to put up their selfies, promising to give them a ‘haircut’ during this crucial lockdown. Dr Kaloo put out his selfie in his doctor gown with mask and medical goggles resting on his head and red-face.

 Twitter responded to his tweet by photoshopping the doctor’s photo, giving him the red cape, a big S across his chest and the signature Clark Kent/ Superman hairstyle. Furthermore, Twitter added a caption along with the edited photo, ‘You look SUPER’.

Living in Delhi with his wife, two children and mother-in-law, Dr Kaloo had kept his number public for people and patients to contact him smoothly during the current health crisis situation.

But now after Twitter’s ‘Superman’ gesture, he’s getting gazillions of calls and messages thanking and greeting him from all over.

In an interview with Kashmir Observer, Dr Kaloo talks about his newfound fame, acclaimed medical career, and current pandemic routine. 

How do you feel about Twitter’s gesture on your selfie?

I was surprised and excited too!

You know, doctors hardly get any appreciation for their work especially on social media, which is mostly used for otherwise. But thanks to twitter, they made my day.

This is especially important today when healthcare professionals around the globe need encouragement and support.

As we cannot do it without community backing, I request all people to be aware of fake news, contact your local authorities in case you need any help and extend a helping hand to your neighbours and people in need.

Media can play a great role in spreading awareness regarding the issues faced by healthcare workers and the need to improve our healthcare system.

Tell us more about yourself.

I’m a doctor, a researcher, a speaker and an author.

I was born in Sopore town of Baramulla and became the first Interventional Radiologist from Kashmir when I secured the first rank in the All India level entrance exam conducted by ILBS in December 2015.

My research project during training at ILBS became the first paper on Trans Jugular Kidney biopsy from Asia to get published in a reputed journal in the USA.

I’m currently working as a Consultant at Max Hospital in Saket, Delhi.

My active area of practice and research is an interventional Radiology in liver diseases and liver transplant. I’ve presented my research in various countries and have delivered talks on multiple issues.

What exactly is an Interventional Radiology?

 Well, as an Interventional Radiologist, I take help of medical imaging (X rays/ Ultrasound/ CT scan) to do procedures and surgeries.

Dr Kaloo with colleague

It’s just like any other surgery. The difference here is we don’t open up the abdomen to look where the disease is. Rather we take guidance from medical imaging to help our instruments reach the exact site of disease and deliver treatment.

It has many advantages, like minimal scars, less pain, quick recovery, etc. Examples are like angiography, stent placement, tumour ablation, biopsy, drainage.

Since this is a crucial and disastrous time, how are you balancing your personal and professional life?

It’s struggle in many ways.

As healthcare specialists, one of our struggles today is to provide care to patients who were already under our treatment from quite some time before this pandemic started.

We’ve patients from various cities of India as well as many countries of South Asia and Central Asia and the Middle East. Since all the flights are suspended, they can’t come to the hospital for follow up and continuation of their treatment.

It’s especially difficult for patients suffering from cancer. We’ve started online consultation, but many patients need hospitalisation or surgeries.

Then we’ve Covid-19 positive patients right now admitted in our hospital. We’re directly or indirectly involved in their care. We try our best to take all the necessary precautions, however, there’s still a risk of contracting the infection.

We’ve families. We do not want to carry infection back home. This is certainly a stressful situation.

How people can cope up with this outbreak?

People should stay home.

But if they’ve to go out, they must wear a mask. They must remember that anyone among us might be infected and should maintain a safe distance from others.

Never touch your face with your hands unless you have washed them with soap. Do not go to crowded places. Prayers may be offered at home. Virtual meetings and online classes should be encouraged. People should stay connected with their relatives and friends on phone or online.

Stay determined, be united and follow the guidelines. I assure you, we’re going to beat this pandemic very soon.

What’s your say on the recovered patients and their psychological balance?

Though most of the patients recover, but the uncertainty and psychological trauma associated with this diagnosis make it a unique challenge for us as well as for the patient.

Plus there’ve been some instances of stigmatisation of the Covid-19 patients.

Today we can safely say that patients who recover can live their life completely normally. They’re not a threat to any of us. They should not be discriminated.

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