Destiny’s Child…. Jul28


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Destiny’s Child….

A little boy from the temple town, Kancheepuram, trotted the path of life as destiny led him to become the master of reasoning,KING OF MICU. We are proud to introduce the legendary Head of Diagnostics and Medicine,Professor Dr. Somasundaram. We had the golden opportunity to be the audience to his erudite talk on the occasion of his birthday,taking advantage of the leeway we asked….



Your birthday resolution!

( His face lightens with a smile ) ehh…

Nothing in specific… TO REMAIN THE SAME…

(He smiles again).. No resolutions…


Sir your wish for your family and loved ones…

What more can I wish for them than ‘A PEACEFUL EXISTENCE…’


Sir could you please share some relished moments of your childhood days?

I was born in a modest background to family of handloom weavers. Being one among 8 children I could not afford to dream. Though we didn’t have an educated background where books formed the way of life, our parents were very keen to provide us with the best education possible. We made best use of the opportunities bestowed to us and… Destiny led me to medicine.


Sir, does belief in destiny and reasoning go hand-in-hand?

Whether they go hand in hand or not, I’m sure they are not contradictory or diametrically opposite to each other.


We are thrilled and amazed at your quality of reasoning, Sir, could you please reveal this fascination for the word ‘why’?

To quote Sherrington Starling, the great physiologist,
“…..In medicine, everything is answerable…” The question of how it happens, to what degree and the underlying mechanism are well explained except WHY it happens. No science can be complete without answering the question why. However medicine, not being a pure science, it is not possible to answer every ‘Why’; thus one has to resort to metaphysics. The art of reasoning or answering for the curious ‘Why’ comes by meticulous ‘self- learning’.


Sir, were you a perfectionist?

I am not. Perfection is unachievable; nothing created by God is perfect but God himself. One has to strive to attain near perfection in life. If one succeeds in achieving it, he has reached the goal of his birth.

‘Nothing is ideal, once achieved it no more remains ideal…’


Sir, your philosophy of life?

Life is for living….enna?….every living being longs to live a pleasant life. We make our life pleasant or unpleasant at our own behest.

(let us enter the sir’s very domain of medicine…..)


Sir, we came to know you are fond of teaching.

The glow on my student’s face, which appears after understanding a concept, is the one that inspires and keeps me going on. The more you teach the more refined, more knowledgeable and wise you become….. (He continued)…
A knowledgeable person would enlist the umpteen causes whereas a wise person would point out the exact reason.


Sir’s take on gadgets Vs art of medicine

Art of medicine will never die, gadgets cannot replace human mind. It’s the reassurance, care and the healing touch which makes doctors superior to any technological alternatives.

Diagnosis and treatment aren’t only means that heal patients.The patient should be viewed as a whole, where the varied signs and symptoms can be unified to a single etiological diagnosis; as per rule of parsimony or better known as occam’s razor.


In your many years of practice; 13 yrs in PHC, 9 yrs in MICU so many more dedicated years of diagnostics, what were those cases which were challenging?

A young primi at 24 weeks of gestation was referred to us with fever that never responded to medications. Meticulous recording of physical findings over a week helped us to arrive at a diagnosis of AOSD (Adult onset Still’sdisease), a rare disease, even rarer among pregnant women. Only four such cases were reported worldwide previously and may be the first instance in India. The dilemma arose on treating this patient at the cost of life of her unborn child. Aspirin is the ideal drug for treating AOSD. But, its use in a pregnant women is controversial, may be contraindicated. Yet we had no other choice, but to start her on Aspirin, after explaining the risks to her and getting her consent. The response was dramatic, resolution of fever occurred within a day. All other symptoms disappeared over the next three days. We paid the price of our intervention,with the loss of foetus. Four weeks later routine examination revealed absence of foetal heart sounds and a still born foetus was delivered.


Branching of medicine into various super specialties; more converging or diverging?

Sir narrates…

Once a famous physician threw a party inviting only specialists….. Specialists in eating… they were given the liberty to choose only one among the many served dishes. The question arose at the end of party as to who had the most nutritious diet…..????. Guess who…??

(He smiles)…

It was… the dog that ate the left overs….We need people who know little of everything rather than the ones who know everything of something. Super specialities make physicians strangers to one another. Though they are essential the need of physicians is no less. General medicine is a fountain from which the various super specialities branchout.


Sir, what according to you are the ingredients of a good physician in making?


Sir instantly enlists….

• Altruism

• Empathy

• Benevolence

• Selfless service

• And not clammering for recognition….

Quoting Thomas Gray,

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many a flower is born to blossom unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”


The session heated to rapid series question which was answered with poise:

Somasundaram sir..

As a son: Yes.. I met all the expectations of my parents as a son, they wanted me to pursue my studies as long as I could and I did it.

As a husband: (He smiles)…. It’s a very pleasant experience…
‘Happily married’ is not an oxymoron for me.

As a father: I fulfilled all their wishes….. no regrets.. I was more of a friend. I believe that our children come through us but they are not ours to possess. They have to strive for their life.

As a grandfather: I love my role as a grandpa.

(He quotes Shakespeare)…
It’s re-living my life; a second childhood.

Favourite movie:

English: One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, Rainman

Tamil: Nenjil oru alayam

Favourite book: Alchemist (Paulo Coelho),

Tamil: Sivappuriksha, short stories by T.Janakiraman

“A personification of humility with
a cornucopia of knowledge, wisdom
and clinical acumen that reminds you
of a Tinsley Harrison who is among
us. With teacher par excellence, it is
a dream come true to MGMC & RI.”

– Dr. P.K Shiva


Favourite song: ‘ullatilnallaullam’ (karnan)


Sir, Why Hotel Jayaram? No heart burns…..(He laughs)


Why only swift? Because its swift…


Any pets: A 11 year old Tom cat (who is almost blind) and a dog…you choose a dog but a cat always chooses his master.

To quote Vallalar…

வாடிய பயிரை கண்டபோதெல்லாம்
வாடினேன் நான்


Finally, we ask him what would be his advice for the students?

ADVICE…. advices are given but never followed (He laughs)

மனத்துக்கண் மாசிலன் ஆதல் அனைத்தறன்
ஆகுல நீர பிற

(In spotless mind virtue is found

And not in show and swelling sound)



Interviewed by
Divyang Mongia, Thasneem Jainulabdeen, Keerthi Jain, Prasun Sit,
Arun Karthick, Arun Mitra.