Award winner inspired other doctors

SINGAPORE - Paediatric surgeon K. Prabhakaran (above, left) made history in 1995, when he performed Singapore's first successful paediatric liver transplant. The organ recipient was an 11-year-old girl, who would go on to live a normal life.

Fourteen years later, Professor Prabhakaran saw his former patient again, during her wedding in 2009.

Said the 62-year-old head of the paediatric-surgery department at the National University Hospital (NUH): "If she hadn't undergone the liver transplant, she wouldn't have survived.

"Watching how our transplant kids grow up, get married and have kids themselves are the sort of things that are satisfying."

Yesterday, the doctor was recognised for his contributions to paediatric surgery over the past two decades.

He was among 10 outstanding clinicians who received accolades at the annual National Medical Excellence Awards (NMEA), now in their fifth year.

Prof Prabhakaran was one of two recipients of the coveted National Outstanding Clinician Award.

The other recipient was Professor Wong Hee Kit, a trail blazer in the field of orthopaedic surgery, who is from NUH as well.

Prof Prabhakaran also served as a role model to younger doctors such as Associate Professor Lim Tock Han, 47, who received the National Outstanding Clinician Educator Award at the event.

Their paths crossed when Prof Lim underwent a one- month paediatric-surgery rotation in 1989, when he was a houseman at NUH.

Prof Lim said he admired how his mentor, Prof Prabhakaran, shared a close rapport with patients and their families.

He recalled what a young patient told him: "We call that consultant 'papa'."

Prof Lim, who is assistant chief executive for education and research at the National Healthcare Group, said he is doing his part for the next generation of medical practitioners.

Besides other roles, he is part of a team formed to establish Singapore's third medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, and is helping to recruit doctors to teach there.

He said: "I have benefited from being taught by (senior doctors)... It's a good chance for me to pay it forward."

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