Dr Robin Sengupta: Proud son of Bengal

Dr Robin Sengupta: Proud son of Bengal

April 25, 2015

The story of Dr Robin Sengupta, one of the nation’s finest neurosurgeons and founder of Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata, is one of inspiration and pride. Born in Chittagong (then part of undivided Bengal), his family did not have the means to send him to a school. He used to sell fruits in the local market, but copied class notes from his friends.  He started giving tuitions to fund his schooling.  Good results in his matriculation examination got him a scholarship for post-secondary education. He again did well in his Intermediate, which motivated him to move to Kolkata in pursuit of his dream of becoming a doctor.

However, life was hard. He arrived penniless in the city in 1955. Because he had no papers, as he was a refugee, he failed to get himself admitted to a government medical college. Lady luck helped him here. He managed to set up a meeting with the renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Kanak Chandra Sarbadhikari. Dr Sarbadhikari arranged for him to be interviewed at National Medical College, which was then a private college. He did well and was admitted. But life refused to relent. He went through turbulent times to make both ends meet. He earned a living by working as a stretcher boy in the St John's Ambulance Brigade, to supplement the meagre refugee stipend that he received.

After completing his medical degree course, he went to the UK, where he landed a job at Berry General Hospital, Manchester. After drifting from one speciality to another, he finally landed in the neurosurgery department. Later, he also worked with Dr William Sweet, the famous neurosurgeon of Harvard University at the Mess General Hospital, and in the National Health Service in Newcastle.

Dr Sengupta examining brain scans at the institute (I-NK)

In neurosurgery, he took up aneurysm surgery as his forte. At that time, the success rate of aneurysm surgeries was very poor. He excelled in his field; many well-known people from different parts of the world got cured under him. One such occasion was when, in the mid-1980s, he received a call from India to attend to President Venkataraman’s wife, who had a brain haemorrhage.

When he retired at the age of 65 in 2002, Regional Neurosciences Centre in Newcastle, the Newcastle hospital he worked in, in a rare gesture, named its operation theatre ‘Robin Sengupta Theatre.’ As a recognition to his expertise, they wanted him to continue, which he happily did. He finally stopped working there in December 2012. He is now an emeritus consultant there.

Back to his roots

Then he decided to come back to his roots. Back in Kolkata, he set up The Institute of Neurosciences (I-NK), a charitable institute, for the treatment of neurological disorders in adults and children. He does not take any benefits from the company; all the profits are ploughed back for the benefit of the institute. It is linked with the Regional Neurosciences Centre in Newcastle, with which Dr Sengupta is still associated.

In 2000, he was awarded as the best neurosurgeon of the decade. In 2013, CNBC-TV18 India Healthcare Awards awarded The Institute of Neurosciences as the ‘Best Single Speciality Hospital in India.’ The government of West Bengal has also honoured I-NK as the ‘Best Superspeciality Hospital.’

I-NK – One of the best of its kind (Sources: I-NK)

IN-K: Institute with a difference
  • Death due to head injuries is often due to delayed treatment or secondary complications. The I-NK Trauma Centre offers dedicated team services to combat these and other injuries on an immediate basis.
  • The cause of stroke can be diagnosed immediately through modern imaging techniques at the Stroke Centre at I-NK. If treated immediately, without wastage of time, stroke patients can recover their paralysis or other severe neurological deficits within a span of time.
  • The hospital is fully air-conditioned and equipped with 150 beds, 11 fully furnished Examination Rooms and four operation theatres with state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Treatment is provided at subsidised costs for the less privileged.
  • 20% of the occupied beds are free beds, reserved for underprivileged patients and children.
  • I-NK has a dedicated team of brilliant neurosurgeons, neurologists, anaesthetics, intensivists, physiotherapists and other rehab experts, trained in the country and overseas, who are capable of providing the best medical attention to critical patients.
  • Most institutes do not provide any platform for teamwork in treatment and sub-specialisation. I-NK promotes global teamwork through constant interaction and video-conferencing with specialists from recognised overseas neurosciences institutions and globally recognised doctors. Frequent case discussions for diagnosis and operations significantly improve the chances of critical patients.
  • Most institutions do not provide scope for education & research. I-NK offers educational programs for post-graduates and family practitioners, and promotes research in collaboration with doctors abroad.
  • I-NK has plans to create a campus for research and education in neurosciences based on reputed models such as those of Vellore and AIIMS.

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