Tuesday, January 26, 2021

AM for eminent Melbourne cardiologist

Reading Time: 3 minutesProfessor Jitendra Vohra is among luminaries from the Indian community felicitated on Australia Day, reports PREETI JABBAL

Associate Professor Jitendra Kantilal Vohra was in India celebrating with his family on January 26, when his name was officially declared amongst this year’s Australia Day awardees in the prestigious AM category.
The cardiologist and senior electrophysiologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital was honoured for significant service to medicine in the field of cardiology.
He was the first physician to apply the ‘His Bundle Electrogram’ in Australia in 1971: the technique involved the insertion of an electrode catheter into the heart via the femoral vein in the groin.
Today Prof. Vohra is a leader in genetic testing for inherited disorders of cardiac rhythm. He is the founder and current director of the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) Clinic and was instrumental in the introduction of the first automatic ICD in Australia in 1984. Since 1961, he has authored over 120 medical publications and book chapters nationally and internationally.
Originally from Gujarat in India, Dr Vohra migrated to Australia in 1969 soon after the end of the ‘white Australia’ policy. He completed his MBBS and MD from Mumbai and had gone to the UK to complete his post graduation training. There he met the director of the Royal Melbourne Hospital who asked him to consider migrating to Australia.
According to him, moving to Melbourne was the ‘best decision of his life’.
“If you are sick, there is no better place than Australia as the medical standards here are comparable to America and Europe,” said Dr Vohra.
Commenting on the Indian community in Melbourne Dr Vohra said, “When I migrated things were different; there were very few Indians here. However today the community has grown in significant proportions due to migration.
Australia has become richer from all the diversity. Whilst there has never been any overt discrimination, the mainstream community today is far more accepting of migrants”.
Dr Vohra recently established the Cardiac Genetic Clinic in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital and was involved in establishing the Cardiac Genetic Registry forming part of the National Genetic Heart Disease
Registry. He also is a mentor and educator of trainee cardiologists, particularly in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. He co-authored in 1989 a book titled Coronary Care Workbook, widely distributed today throughout cardiac units in Australian hospitals.
“Genetic heart diseases are my main area of interest,” claimed Dr Vohra as he explained his work in layman terms. “Genetic testing is a potentially life-saving screening for patients with cardiac conditions that may predispose them to sudden cardiac death and other genetic heart diseases. It is not commonly known that many young people die due to inherited cardiac disorders. We screen families as a proactive measure to identify and help determine if they have any heart disease predisposition. At RMH we do a significant amount of testing in collaboration with the Murdoch Institute”.
Dr Vohra’s CV outlines the numerous publications, as well as organisations, research and medical health facilities that benefit from his expertise. In the little spare time he has, he likes to read, play tennis, dabble with photography and travel. He has strong ties with India, travelling back every year during Christmas to spend time with his family. According to him, people entering the medical profession nowadays are very bright, talented and hardworking, and rarely need advise. However when asked, Dr Vohra’s advice to young doctors would be to ensure that they have the ability to get along with people and other doctors, to work well within a team and have empathy for their patients. Receiving the Australia Day honour was a very rewarding experience for Dr Vohra. He is looking forward to the official ceremony later this year, when the awards will be handed to the recipients.

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Preeti Jabbal
Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.

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