Bangladesh has progressed a lot in the field of heart surgery, with new frontiers, advancements, and milestones achieved. So much so that many people nowadays opt for treatment within the country, instead of seeking to go abroad.
Dr Rezaul Hassan, a Consultant at the Cardiac Surgery department in United Hospital, is one of the seasoned surgeons who have intimately seen this evolution, and also actively participating and contributing to it. After obtaining his MS degree in Cardiothoracic Surgery in 2003, he went full steam ahead, dedicating his life to the discipline, learning and embracing more advanced or newer techniques.
He has seen, for example, the practice of beating-heart surgery become a norm. (It is a procedure of performing surgery without stopping the heart, i.e. undertaking surgery while your heart is still beating). He has also boldly and successfully undertaken redo heart surgeries (i.e. conducting cardiac surgeries on patients who previously underwent heart surgeries).
In other words, Dr Hassan is among the surgeons who have embraced and pushed — and continue to do so — the frontiers and possibilities of cardiac surgery in the country.
From various forms of valve repairs to treating congenital heart defects, Dr Hassan is a versatile cardiac surgeon, to say the least.
For the past few years, he has been performing about one or two bypass surgeries every working day!
The act of carrying out surgeries has become second nature to him. The demand of executing delicate cardiac treatment procedures with perfection and finesse does not give him stress, perhaps due to the comfort of familiarity: the heart is, as he says, now a 'known and familiar territory' to him.
Dedicating his life to cardiac surgery, Dr Hassan reckons that his biggest reward is the satisfaction of seeing a patient smile after receiving a successful treatment; the joy of alleviating a human being from pain. "I can make a difference in someone's life," the surgeon muses.
Of course, this comes at the cost of having very little time to spare, working long hours, and handling demanding circumstances.
But he has a simple and effective tactic in dealing with stress and time, something we can all apply in our professional lives as well: "I never make an expectation of exactly at what time I can wrap up a day's work. I do not enter the operating theatre with that mindset, and hence, I do not pre-plan on what to do with the rest of the time. This is because we sometimes get stuck at the hospital for a period longer than anticipated, perhaps for a patient whose condition may have taken an unexpected turn," he explains. "So, I first finish my work, and only afterwards, I sit to make other plans. This allows me to focus properly and not get frustrated due to those long unforeseen hours."
Such is the dedication cardiac surgeons require.
As Dr Hassan says to all aspirants in the field, "There is no shortcut. It is a field which requires an extreme level of patience — not only in terms of the number of years of training and practice, but also about mastering the patience of staying focused for long hours in the operating theatre!"
Photo: Nayem Shaan and Personal Collection