I was in the cinema watching a movie on the 26th of December 2016, when a friend messaged me informing me of the shocking news “ Rakesh Sinha passed away while jogging this morning”. I was in shock! I first met Rakesh Sinha in 2008. He was invited to demonstrate laparoscopic surgery at the KKH hospital, Singapore and the Singapore team brought him for a joint Singapore and Malaysia laparoscopic video presentation at a Golf Course in Johor Bahru. I have earlier heard of him from his publications as a man who holds the Guinness book of world records for removing large fibroids and uterus.
I asked him whether he could come to Malaysia to demonstrated laparoscopic surgery and he immediately accepted the invitation. I organised a laparoscopic surgery workshop on fibroids in 2009 in Melaka, Malaysia. The day before the workshop, I was informed that the flight that he was to take from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur was cancelled. I was worried that I need to run the workshop all by myself. Fortunately, I received a call from him from Singapore telling me that when he went to the Mumbai Airport he found out that the flight to Kuala Lumpur was cancelled. He took another flight to Singapore and then to Kuala Lumpur. I was relieved. He performed 4 beautiful surgeries and gave several lectures during that workshop.
Since then we have been good friends. I consider him as one of my mentors. These are some pictures that I have taken with him over the years.
The first time I visited his center was in 2012 when he organised the first 3 D laparoscopic surgery workshop. After watching him demonstrate 3D Laparoscopy, I was so impressed that I wanted that machine myself. Only after 1 and a half years I could get my hands on the 3 D laparoscope. In December 2013, we started Malaysia’s first 3D laparoscopy center. This is a photo taken in his office during my visit.
He had a whole library full of books
His trainees not only learn laparoscopic surgery, they are also given books on life and success to read. During that visit, he took me to a bookstore and bought me 2 books, “ The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande and Robin Sharma’s book. This is what he wrote in the book. Dear Selva “It only takes one dream, one thought or one idea to change your life! All the best”. I was not much of a reader before that but since then I have become an avid reader having read hundreds of books.
There are many things I admire about Rakesh Sinha. Besides being a good surgeon, he is a warm person. He greets and speaks to you with such warmth, a skill that I have yet to attain. He is a fully trained in NLP (Neurolinguistic Program) having obtained his training and certification from Jack Canfield of the Chicken Soup fame. He runs success seminars and motivates people to achieve more. His last contribution to the world is this book called “ Anatomy of Success – Management lessons from a surgeon”. I have read it and it is a good book.
When he came to Melaka in 2009, he not only operated, he gave lectures as well as juggled. He said that juggling improves hand eye coordination and improves the dexterity of your non-dominant arm. I have since taken up juggling and here is my attempt at juggling. He practices what he preaches.
He is a marathon runner, having run 4 marathons and was training for his 5th marathon when he collapsed and died on the 26th of December 2016. He being my mentor, I had to follow his footsteps. I ran my first marathon last year and my second marathon in 2 months ago. Though I am not as fast as him (his time is 5 hours), I took more than 6 hours.
Many people ask me what I am trying to achieve trying to run a marathon at 56 yrs of age. I tell them that to complete 42 km is a test of endurance and determination. Virtues like that of Rakesh, that I like to have in my life.
We all stand on the shoulders of Giants. Rakesh Sinha, you are such a giant in laparoscopic surgery and in LIFE.
There is a Malay/Indonesian idiom “ Harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama” which translates as “ At death, a Tiger leaves its stripes, a man leaves his name”. Rakesh Sinha you will always be remembered especially by your colleagues, your students and your patients. You have touched the hearts and souls of many people including mine and may God Bless Your Soul.
I leave you with these words of Rakesh Sinha.
By Dr. S. Selva