Snatching life from the jaws of death

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It’s all in a day’s work for emergency surgeon Dr Vineeta Singh

The newspapers called her ‘a woman who died and came back to life’.
The Armadale woman was rushed to hospital by her husband after a freak accident while she was cooking. She arrived at the Armadale Health Service in cardiac arrest, had no pulse and was not breathing. The doctor in Emergency, Dr Ash Mukherjee, thought she was dead. But his colleague Dr Vineeta Singh joined him to literally snatch her back from the jaws of death.
Vineeta Singh.Indian Link
“The lady was clinically dead for nearly 28 minutes after losing more than five litres of blood in a freak kitchen accident that severed her femoral artery and veins in her right thigh,” Dr Singh described to Indian Link.
The patient had completely bled out and the doctors had to fill her heart with blood again as the team worked on resuscitating her. Dr Singh was among the team of surgeons that performed a six-hour cutting edge surgery, successfully controlling her bleeding and saving her life.
After two days in intensive care, the patient began to show remarkable signs of recovery, with no brain damage. “It was very rewarding to witness such a positive outcome and this incident is truly a testimony to the skills of everyone involved in the team,” Dr Singh remarked.
Thankful to be alive once again, the young lady truly considers this to be a medical miracle and is extremely grateful to the doctors who did not give up on her. She was discharged from the hospital after eight days.
For Dr Singh, there is nothing more enriching than seeing a patient leave hospital, all well again.
“Every day, we see individuals who can’t lead a normal life for whatever reason, get better and go on to lead a fulfilling life,” she said. “It’s great to see people recover after surgery and gain independence from support systems.”
Surely, every single case does not to lead to great results?
“Of course that’s the saddest part of my profession – there are poor outcomes at times,” she said. “A number of patients don’t do well even after the best possible treatment. But I see each failure as a learning lesson.”
Vineeta Singh.Indian Link
It is clear that for Dr Singh, surgery is not your regular 9-to-5 job. It is quite literally a way of life. Emergency surgery, where she can use her skills to turn around those touch-and-go situations, is what attracted her to this field.
A general and oncoplastic breast surgeon in Australia for 10 years, Dr Singh specialises in emergency surgery, general open and laparoscopic surgeries and breast cancer treatments. She practices at Royal Perth, Armadale and Mount Hospitals in Perth. She is also the Head of Department and Director of Surgery at Armadale Hospital.
Her daily schedule is choc-a-block with clinic, operating sessions, administrative meetings, teaching and mentoring (besides being mum to a 13-year-old and wife to another surgeon). “But the best part of my profession is the gratification I receive when patients do well,” she says. “I am indeed a patient advocate and when the outcome is favourable, it literally makes my day.”
Dr Singh, who hails from Azamgarh in India, obtained her medical training in Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai in India and Minneapolis in the USA.
“With hard work and the blessings of your parents, anyone can chase their dreams,” she remarked.
Physicians from India face hurdles like cultural differences, gap in philosophies and beliefs. With her active role in the science and practice of medicine, Dr Vineeta Singh has shown how these gaps can be minimised, so that the larger issues in the profession are successfully addressed.

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