THE HISTORY OF APSI

 

By 1955, there were about four to five plastic surgeons devoting their full time to plastic surgery and there was a desire to form an Association. Thus, in the Annual General Body Meeting of A.S.I. held in December, 1956 at Indore, Dr. R.N.Sinha moved a resolution to this effect. A sub-committee was formed with Dr. C.P.V. Menon of Madras as its Chairman and Dr. R.N.Sinha as the Convenor to frame By-laws and Regulations for Association of Plastic Surgeons of India - as a Section of Association of Surgeons of India. In the year 1957 considerable interest was created in Maharashtra following the visit of Sir Harold Gillies. He was pleasantly surprised to see deformities being treated by tube pedicles and other modern techniques of plastic surgery. He applauded the excellent work that Major Sukh was doing in the field of Rehabilitative Plastic Surgery at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. It was not only an eye-opener for all., but a surprise to Dr. Gillies himself. Many war casualties had extensive stay in his unit for such procedures of rehabilitation. Sir Harold Gillies also demonstrated various operations and techniques at Kandhwa Leprosy Centre, where Dr.N.H.Antia was working. Dr. Gillies, as the founder of modern plastic surgery was keen to propogate knowledge in this speciality in one of the most populous countries of the world. He visited and lectured at several centres in the country including Nagpur, Calcutta, Delhi, Patna and Jaipur .

 

At Nagpur, in December 1957, he inaugurated the Association of Plastic Surgeons in India - as a section of A.S.I. The Association elected the following office bearers:

Dr. R.N. Cooper President

Dr. C. Balakrishnan First Vice-President

Dr. R.N. Sinha Founder Secretary

Dr. R.N. Sharma Founder Member

Dr. N.H. Antia Founder Member

Dr. Hirdeis Founder Member (ENT Specialist from Bangalore)

 

This was indeed a great historic moment and Dr. Gillies was made the first honorary member. Dr. Gillies stayed in India for about three months and before leaving for England he insisted on a token payment of Rs.100/- to Dr. Antia as an inspiration to continue his efforts in establishing a Department of Plastic Surgery at a Government Medical College in Bombay. This proved to be a great morale booster and the first unit of plastic surgery started at J.J. Hospital, Bombay in December 1958 with Dr. Antia as its Head.

 

A Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit was established in 1961 at K.E.M. Hospital, Bombay, by Dr. Charles Pinto. Mr.E.W. Peet of Oxford was a regular visitor to this unit. Dr. R.L. Maneksha after his return from abroad in early fifties continued doing Plastic Surgery under the Department of General Surgery. Later he was responsible for establishing the Unit of Plastic Surgery at G.T.Hospital, Bombay, in early sixties.

 

The first summer conference of the Association was held at Nagpur in 1964. The most outstanding feature of the conference was the brilliant presentation on the classification of cleft lip and palate by Prof. C. Balakrishnan; now known throughout the country as Nagpur Classification. {Balakrishnan C. (1975) Indian Classification of Cleft Lip and Palate. Ind. J. Plast. Surg. Vol 8, No. 1, p43-44.}

 

The first batch of post-graduate students trained in our country appeared for their examination from Nagpur and Patna Universities in 1962 and 1963 respectively. MS in Plastic Surgery started in Lucknow from 1966.

 

In 1963, the Government decided to start a Department of Burns, Plastic and Maxillo-facial Surgery at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. Dr. J.L. Gupta had the honour of starting and developing this unit and by shear hard work and dedication it became a major unit of Plastic Surgery in India in a very short time. It still is the largest burn centre in the country.

 

In 1964, first Post-graduate Medical Education Conference was convened by the Medical Council of India under the Chairmanship of the then Union Minister of Health Dr. Sushila Nayyar at Delhi. She had convened this meeting to standardize post-graduate curriculum of different specialties which was then to be carefully supervised by the Medical Council of India. This Conference was a hallmark in laying down guidelines for physical standards and criteria, the teaching requirements, the course and curriculum leading to the degree of MCh. in Plastic Surgery in India.

 

In the last three decades, there has been tremendous growth of Plastic Surgery. The number of teaching centres increased and the Association established several travelling fellowships for training within and outside the country. A few specialized centres of excellence for management of burns, hand, microvascular surgery, cranio-facial surgery and aesthetic surgery also developed by dint of hard work, and special interests in different parts of the country. The Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery started in 1981 to bring together all the professionals involved to disseminate and advance their knowledge.