“Dr. Advani is India’s first and best-known oncologist. From the age of 8 years, Dr. Advani has been wheelchair bound ever since he suffered an attack of polio, but nothing stopped him from being a doctor. Since 1974, doctor has been involved with Medical Oncology/Hematology along with strong interaction with other clinical branches and basic scientists. Dr. Advani recollects his early days when he was denied a ‘house job’ the supervised clinical training session for final year MBBS students at Mumbai’s Grant Hospital. It was in the late 60s. There were six sections at the college back then and out of that five said no to him because he was handicapped. After fighting all the odds, doctor went on to do his MD. After mastering the degree, he went on to become India’s best oncologists who has also won the Padma Bhushan award. Back in 1995 after finishing school, he applied for admission to medicine at Grant Medical College, but was rejected as they did not want a handicap person. His dedication and ambition did not let him give up. He wrote to the hospital authorities, ministers and others requesting their intervention. Finally, Grant Medical college relented and he went on to pursue MBBS. He had the power to convince the dean of the college to admit him to the MBBS course. Dr. Advani, is a man who pioneered bone-marrow transplant for leukemia in India.
Dr Advani didn’t have any great ambition until he was hospitalized with polio. In the 1950s there were hardly any drugs to treat the disease. But the interactions he had with doctors at a Mumbai hospital where he spent “a few months” blew his mind. During that period he decided he wanted to become a doctor. After his education at the Mumbai’s Grant Hospital, he went on to train himself at Royal Marsden Hospital in London after his brief stint at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital after completing his MD and decided to specialize in oncology, bone-marrow transplant.
Dr Advani is known to be the first oncologist in India to have successfully done a bone-marrow transplant. He transplanted bone marrow into a nine-year-old girl down with myeloid leukaemia from her brother. Dr. Advani, is a man who pioneered bone-marrow transplant for leukemia in India. He was also a part of clinical trials to help children with lymphoblastic leukemia. Conducted on 1,200 patients, the trials helped raise success rates in treatment from 20% to 70%. He is a healer, a role model for many other aspiring medical students and also for those who are physically challenged. He not only sailed through all difficulties but also excelled in his field.
At times he stays back at Jaslok hospital till morning 4-5 am.
A message to youngsters: no disability can stop or define you. Today I am successfully practicing at Jaslok hospital and meet so many patients on a regular basis but so far no one has judged me for my wheel chair. While I was writing appeal letters to various ministers i knew only one thing that I want to achieve my dream and I will keep trying until I have to.”
Story By – Mansi Dhanak
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