REGUNATH KANDASAMY

NEUROLOGICAL SURGERY, A WAY OF LIFE

A kind, compassionate, enthusiastic, and skillful neurosurgeon. dedicated to the education training in Malaysia.

Dr. Regunath Kandasamy

What is your relationship with the WFNS Foundation?

The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies Foundation promotes the worldwide development of Neurosurgery, mainly concerning basic neurosurgical issues and focusing on developing countries. I have had the honor of collaborating with many eminent Neurosurgical Personalities in the foundation while embarking on educational initiatives in the region like providing travel scholarships to young neurosurgeons to attend educational courses and fellowships and providing high-quality, low-cost instrument sets and equipment to Neurosurgeons in developing countries. The WFNS Foundation serves as a beacon of hope for training and education particularly in less privileged parts of the world.

What has neurosurgery brought to your life?

The decision to dedicate my life to the art and craft of healing the brain has been a very rewarding albeit challenging one. The nervous system is all-encompassing with its myriad of secrets waiting to be unlocked, is such that, nothing is mundane or routine. Neurosurgery a craft on the threshold of leading-edge technology is such that the Surgeons’ armamentarium is dynamically evolving.

Early in my medical career, I was indoctrinated with the three miracles of medical intervention; making the lamed walk again, restoring vision in the blind, and bringing the dead back to life. Arguably a fool’s contentions, I have lived it in the practice of Neurosurgery.  In and only in Neurosurgery were all these three lofty miracles realized – the removal of a compressive spine lesion to restore the ability to walk, excision of a seller tumor compressing the optic chiasm to redeem vision, and the diversion of CSF via a ventriculostomy device to pull a patient with hydrocephalus back from the jaws of death.

Treating neurosurgical conditions especially in an emergency setting though at times impugning is a humbling reminder of the finite time we have on earth and of the absolute uncertainty of every next moment – ‘Memento Mori’. Given the responsibility to scribe his destiny in these moments is undeniably stressful but gratifying.

For those embarking on a career in Neurological Surgery, the training process may seem convoluted and protracted, but rest assured that with hard work, perseverance, and commitment, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The mental fortitude that is built in these formative years will be the foundation for becoming a kind, compassionate and skilled practitioner of Surgical Neurology. The aspects of anticipating, planning, and undertaking Surgery with meticulous discipline pervades all aspects of life and makes a person function with a clear concept of cause and effect in daily life.

Teaching has always been my passion.  and this has been my raison d’etre for always making the process of learning better for the Residents. The camaraderie with members of the fraternity around the world and sharing my perspectives via lectures and educational congresses have helped me forge great friendships and contribute to the development of neurosurgery regionally and globally.

How is your normal day like?

My day starts with a quick review of patients in the Critical Care Wards followed by surgery on the Elective List. The day continues with Outpatient Consultation Clinics, Ward Rounds, and Teaching of Residents & Medical Students. Where possible, I end the day embarking on the tenet ‘Healthy Bodies Make Healthy Minds’ with a run or a workout in the gym. The hours preceding sleep are utilized for reading, marking assignments, or scientific writing.

What were your beginnings and what are you doing presently?

I hail from the island of Penang, a state in the north of part of Peninsular Malaysia often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient. My parents were both Academics who instilled in my sibling and me the importance of hard work and sound education. I completed my pre-university education in Penang Free School and went on to obtain my medical degree from the University of Malaya. Post-registration, I worked for 4 years in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Penang General Hospital where my first exposure and impressions of Neurosurgery were sowed. Neurosurgery was at that time, and remains among the busiest and most challenging departments to work in, given the limitation of resources and challenges that were at hand.  A single Neurosurgeon in the Public Sector with his limited team of Middle Grades providing the service for the whole northern region of the country with a 6 bedded ICU was no mean task.

Having found my calling, I enrolled as a Trainee with the National Training Programme in Neurosurgery in Universiti Sains Malaysia which at that time was the sole fully Malaysian Training Programme. I graduated cum laude and was retained and absorbed by University Sains Malaysia as a Lecturer and Neurosurgeon. Thus began my journey of being integrally involved in Neurosurgery Training in Malaysia. I had the privilege of doing my subspeciality training in Pituitary and Hypothalamic Surgery in Japan and pursued a Spine Fellowship in Australia. My training and exposure to a great many mentors have played a significant role in my practice and professional development at the University.  I have since professionally moved on, currently practicing in one of the Premier Private Medical Centres in Kuala Lumpur, but have retained my academic accolades as an Honorary Lecturer with my alma mater. I remain significantly involved in the training of Neurosurgeons in Malaysia and still serve as one of the coordinators of the currently sole National Exit Exams. I also serve as the Chairman of the Education Sub-committee for Neurosurgery of the Malaysian Medical Council. It has been my honor to serve as the elected Secretary of the Neurosurgical Association of Malaysia and likewise the Joint Secretary of the ASEAN Neurosurgical Society. It has given me the opportunity to work with eminent colleagues Nationally, Regionally, and Globally alike.

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Dr. Regunath Kandasamy during surgery

You publish many scientific articles, what are you working on now?

My areas of interest include Skull Base and Spinal Surgery. A lot of my Research also delves into Biomarkers of Brain Injury and the search for better therapeutic outcomes particularly in Traumatic Brain Injury which is a significant problem in this part of the world.

Your goal as a professional is…

To be a kind, compassionate and skillful neurosurgeon to my patients. To have a lasting legacy of teaching and helping in the development of neurosurgeons in the region and the world with particular emphasis on aiding my colleagues in the less affluent regions.

Tell us about neurosurgery in your country.

Malaysia is a rapidly developing nation made up of Peninsular and East Malaysia separated by the South China Sea. It is made up of 13 States and Federal Territories with a population of about 32 million. We have currently in practice about 120 Neurosurgeons, i.e a ratio of about 1 Neurosurgeon:265 000 Population. We have progressed exponentially from the inception of the 1st Neurosurgical Centre in Kuala Lumpur in 1963 with 1 expatriate Neurosurgeon serving a population of 9 million to the mid-80s with about 7 Neurosurgeons for 15 million population. 2001 saw the induction of Malaysia into the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) as a Member Society with its then 21 Neurosurgeons serving a Population of 23 million. The evolution and development of Neurosurgery in Malaysia to its current form saw the decentralization of Neurosurgical Services from the initial sole center in Kuala Lumpur to Tertiary level Centres in all but 1 State. The fraternity endeavors to adhere to the highest standards and recommendations of practice and patient care.  With its links and wide web of networking globally, training and advancement are ever to the fore. There is a zero-tolerance to compromises in Training and Patient Care.

Are there job opportunities for new neurosurgeons?

What is an adequate number of Neurosurgeons for a population? While in Asia, Japan with a population of 126 million has a ratio of 1Neurosurgeon:23,000 Population. The European Model recommends a ratio of 1 Neurosurgeon:100 000 Population. Embracing that would put Malaysia requiring about 320 Neurosurgeons, notwithstanding population growth and Practitioner attrition. So yes, there are sufficient job opportunities for new Neurosurgeons in Malaysia for now.

Neurosurgery Team