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Spine Feature

Source: Neel Anand, M.D., Cedars-Sinai Spine Center

Indo-American Medical Research Charitable Trust to Hold First Meeting

Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed. • Thu, May 19th, 2016

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The inaugural meeting of Indo-American Medical Research Charitable Trust will take place on May 23-24, 2016 in Mumbai, India. Co-founded by Neel Anand, M.D., clinical professor of surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles and Vinod Agrawal, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Mumbai, the Trust is a non-profit entity that focuses on enhancing surgical skills.

As indicated in a May 12, 2016 email, “The Operative Spine Forum will take place at Nanavati Hospital in Juhu, Mumbai and it will focus on the ‘Contemporary Solution of Lumbar Spine Disorders.’ This will be a two-day live surgery course with didactic lectures, discussion and debates. Aimed at providing a pragmatic solution to young surgeons, it will provide the benefit and pitfalls of various techniques of approaching a lumbar spine pathology.

“The Trust functions as a non-profit organization and strives to achieve the following: Surgical camps offering free treatment to the underprivileged and needy patients; Live surgical workshop to enhance knowledge and skill of PG students and young consultants; Interaction with leading experts in the field from the US and India; Expert exchange program; Proctorship; Fellowship opportunities for deserving young surgeons.”

Dr. Anand told OTW, “I always wanted to do the best surgery possible even in the charitable setting so that we can get the best results. This could only be possible if we did surgery in well-equipped state-of-the-art hospitals. Many developing countries have centers today that are well equipped with excellent surgeons who were trained in the U.S. or Europe. What they lack is access to the latest technologies and devices. With this charitable forum we hope to provide these surgeons access to today’s advanced technologies and devices as well as train and educate surgeons in developing countries so that we can collectively improve the outcomes of spine surgery across the globe. More importantly, we can provide patients convenient access to high quality care where they may have otherwise not been able to avail the best treatment paradigms possible.”

“In Mumbai, India, it is very common for patients to come from far away towns and villages to receive medical treatment in the big city. They invariably have to pay cash because they have no insurance to rely on. As a result, this often means having to selling their land or ancestral home or borrowing money from friends and relatives. I saw this firsthand during my early years in the 1980s and witness it again when I visited in November 2015 to teach a course in Mumbai. This truly cemented my desire to set up a charitable foundation where at least some of these patients can receive charitable surgery in the big city. My hope and aspirations are that as this program grows more and more patients can receive the treatment they so desperately need.”

Asked what he thinks will be the most exciting parts of the event, Dr. Anand noted, “The most exciting and gratifying parts of the event will be too many to count. First, it is having the opportunity to achieve this undertaking of providing charitable surgery to patients in India and seeing the smiles on their faces once we are able to alleviate the pain caused by their condition. Second, it is a dream come true for me to help and see other surgeons adopt the latest techniques that will enable them to provide advanced treatments to their patients. It will be a humbling experience and one that I will never forget.”

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