Pappa, they want to operate tonight. They say it is essential to save my legs!” I get this frantic call out of the blue from my son who was participating in some corporate group games at Goa representing United Spirits, Bangalore. It shattered our life. My wife and I were at a prayer meeting and other than a tearful entreaty to the Almighty we did not know what to do. I called him back, got some idea of the cause and talked to an orthopaedic surgeon who opined that the symptoms were most likely that of ‘Compartment Syndrome,’ a situation caused when excessive blood flow into a muscle mass causes it to swell resulting in pressure, and if not addressed properly can lead to permanent damage to the nerves resulting in paralysis of the lower limbs.
The date was October 10, 2010 (10-10-10), and I was serving as General Manager of State Bank of Hyderabad at Hyderabad. I managed to get a ticket to Goa the next day and reached his bedside by noon. The operation was carried out the previous night by Dr. Mahendra Kudchadkar who was attending a party but was requested to come away and perform the operation because of the urgency. My son was admitted in Vrundavan Hospital owned by Dr. Digambar Naik. He was in some pain and was given painkillers and sedatives but at least he was on the road to recovery. I thanked God for all His kindness. But God intervenes through people; so how did a critical situation come to be addressed so well?
Certainly it was God who was behind this concerted action but it is also because, in Rotary, it is our people’s energy that propels our journey forward.
The previous night, I called up whoever I thought could be of help, logistical and otherwise at Goa and like seismic impulses one of my calls alerted a priest who got in touch with a Past District Governor of Cochin. Though he knew me, at that point of time he did not know that the patient was my son. He immediately got in touch with PDG Dilip Salgaokar of Goa and requested assistance. My son was admitted at a hospital owned by Rtn. Dr. Digambar Naik and he then knowing the seriousness of the situation requested Rtn. Dr. Mahendra Kudchadkar to come away from a party at 10 p.m. and operate.
Coincidence? Hardly; but more miracles were yet to come! By October 11, the Rotary community in Goa came to know that a Rotarian’s son from Kerala was hospitalised after an operation in Vrundavan Hospital. They swung into action, visited the hospital and assured me that every assistance will be given; we have to just indicate what we required. Rtn. Haresh L Melwani sent us food from his home on all the days we were there in Goa. His family visited us daily to see if we needed anything. The experience was as moving as it was memorable. Finally after two weeks when my son was able to travel, I wanted to hire a cab to go to the airport; they would not hear of it: a Rotarian sent his car to drop us at the airport which was some distance from the hospital. How can we ever repay all those magnificent men and women who constitute the Rotary community at Goa?
After this experience I sat down to try and analyse why so many hitherto unknown people came to our aid when we wanted it most. Certainly it was God who was behind this concerted action but it is also because, in Rotary, it is our people’s energy that propels our journey forward. Tapping this collective synergy and making it a powerful force through empowerment and engagement has re-defined possibilities and re-set boundaries. Look how Rotary fought against polio. It is this readiness to serve and the enthusiasm of Rotarians that makes the journey of excellence truly memorable and creates the impact on the lives of millions of people around us.
The Rotary movement in India and indeed all over the world is now on a strategic course in its journey of excellence and with the blessings of the Almighty will continue to forge ahead to greater goals. Thank you Rotarians, your contribution will make the world a better place. We as a family, will always remember our 10-10-10.
Rtn. M.C. Jacob, RC Trivandrum, RI District 3212