Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy: Google Cerebrates Renowned Ophthalmologist

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Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy is the founder of the renowned Aravind Eye Hospital

New Delhi:

Google today pays tribute to Dr Govinda Venkataswamy, an ophthalmologist, on his 100th birth anniversary with a doodle.

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy, known to friends and patients as Dr. V, is the founder of the renowned Aravind Eye Hospital. Started as a small entity with 11 beds, the hospital has changed the way ailments related to eyes are treated in the country.

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy was born on October 1, 1989 in Tamil Nadu's Vadamalapuram. At an early age of 30, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy was permanently crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. However, despite his own health issues, nothing could stop him from what he wanted to do.

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Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy attended a school in his village where students would write on sand which collected from riverbank as there was no pencil and paper. He then went on to study Chemistry at American College in Madurai. He then earned a degree of M.D. from Stanley Medical College in Madras in 1944.

After passing out of medical school, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy joined the Indian Army Medical Corps for a career in obstetrics – a branch of medicine related to pregnancy and child birth. However, his career with the Army was short lived as he was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. It was so severe that Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy was bedridden for about a year.

However, he returned to medical school and earned a degree in ophthalmology in 1951. He learned the procedures of surgery to remove cataract, one of the main causes of blindness.

A blog post on Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy by Google says, "Dr. V could perform 100 surgeries in a day. Addressing the problem of blindness in a holistic fashion, he set up eye camps in rural communities, a rehab center for blind people, and a training program for ophthalmic assistants, personally performing over 100,000 successful eye surgeries."

In 1973, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy was conferred the Padmashree award for his outstanding service to the nation.

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy set up the Aravind Eye Hospital in late 1970s. The hospital was financed by doctors mortgaging their homes and donating own furniture, notes the post by Google. It adds, "Today Aravind Eye Hospital has nearly 4,000 beds performing over 200,000 eye surgeries each year, with 70% of patients paying little or nothing."

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy died on July 7, 2006 at the age of 87.

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