Book launch of "Healing Hands" a biography of Prof. R. Venkataswami

As per a study reported in The Lancet (, 2.4 million Indians die of treatable conditions every year (this is more than twice the number of Indians dying due to tobacco in its various forms). This is the worst among 136 Low- and Middle-income countries studied. A little more than 800,000 die due to lack of access to care and twice that number die as a result of poor-quality care. This is the prevailing context in which the book “Healing Hands” has been written. The book is the story of a great surgeon; but more than that it is an attempt to put together a framework for delivering affordable, high-quality, affordable, tertiary healthcare for ALL Indians that is inspired by the what Prof Venkataswami accomplished at Government Stanley Hospital in Chennai over 3 decades ago.

1971: a young plastic surgeon stepped into Stanley Medical College and Hospital, a State Government institution in Madras, India. He had a singular purpose - to create a world-class service for patients. By 1991, not only had that dream been realised, but the Stanley Hand Injury Service emerged as the world's largest centre for the management of hand injuries, earning a reputation for excellence that spread far beyond the shores of India. The surgeon was R Venkataswami, and this is his story. A story that has greater meaning and relevance for us today, as we face the enormous challenge of delivering high-quality, affordable, compassionate healthcare for all Indians
Comments about Prof Venkataswami:

“He is the senior hand surgeon of the world's most populous hand center, where rich and poor receive the highest standard hand care and reconstruction without regard to the workers' often meager resources - to me one of the "seven wonders of the world." Harold E Kleinert, MD, Pioneer Hand Surgeon, University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA, writing about Prof R Venkataswami

“Your program is absolutely superb. In my own experience, your quality of work and excellence of
training is not matched anywhere.” Peter Nathan, MD, Microvascular Surgeon, Portland, Oregon,
USA, writing about the Hand Injury Service at Stanley

"To those misfortunate who had hands injured, Venkataswami was a saviour and miracle maker since the 70s, like Gandhi during the dark imperial days. Hopefully, those healing hands will
continue to live on delivering miracles " Fu-Chan Wei, MD, FACS, Distinguished Chair Professor,
Department of Plastic Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, Medical College, Taipei, Taiwan

“I first visited Professor Venkataswami in Stanley in 1987. The Hand Unit which he had created in Stanley was like a clean oasis in a desert of confusion. I invited him to give the 1998 McIndoe Lecture of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in which he spoke about the creation of the hand surgery unit. It was a lesson in vision and achievement. He has set an example to us all of dedication, perseverance, humility, and also of spirituality.” Brian Sommerlad, FRCS, FRCPCH,
honorary consultant plastic surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, and at the St
Andrew’s Centre for Plastic Surgery, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, UK.

Anyone interested in learning from the inspiring story of a doctor who overcame formidable odds to deliver healthcare as it is meant to be, within the frugal environment of a state institution, should read this book. This book would be of special interest to doctors, healthcare administrators, and corporate healthcare executives.

About the Author:

Dr Swami(nathan) Subramaniam, is a physician, pharmacologist, neuroscientist, corporate R&D executive and most recently an entrepreneur. After his medical degree from Madras University - Stanley Medical College (India), he completed training in Clinical Pharmacology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (Chandigarh, India) and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA). Post his doctoral degree, he was a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda (Maryland, USA). His research career spans over two decades in academia and industry and covers interests in neuroscience (excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, epilepsy, stroke) and lifestyle diseases (diabetes) and cancer.
After several senior-level positions in Pharmaceutical R&D in India, Swami is pursuing his entrepreneurial interests by investing in and engaging with start-ups. Swami has published in the scientific literature. Mastering Sleep (Pan Macmillan) was his first book for a general audience.

Dr Swami is a Stanleyan and belongs to the batch that joined the MBBS course in 1976.

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