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Did I teach you well? A chance encounter involving two cardiac surgeons

From left, Bill Meldrum-Hanna with Nand Kejriwal

From left, Bill Meldrum-Hanna with Nand Kejriwal

When cardio-thoracic surgeon Nand Kejriwal’s registrar told him in the operating theatre recently there was a patient for him to see with multi-trauma, he had no idea it would lead to a reunion with his old mentor.

Sydney-based cardiac surgeon Bill Meldrum-Hanna, 61, was in Turangi on holiday when he fell from his bike breaking his ribs and verterbra. He was transferred to Waikato Hospital’s emergency department where clinicians inserted a chest tube to drain blood.

This is where the story became even more interesting.

“As I was finishing the case, the scrub nurse gave me a sticker of the patient.

Older photo taken in 1996

Older photo taken in 1996

I looked at the surname “Meldrum-Hanna” and made a comment that it was a very unusual surname and the only other time I heard it was in 1996, when I worked in Sydney’s Westmead Hospital as a fellow and one of the cardiac surgeons, his boss, was named Bill Meldrum-Hanna,” said Mr Kejriwal “When I spoke to him in the emergency department, I realised that it was indeed the same cardiac surgeon.

Here I was, meeting him after a gap of 18 years when he was under my care.” Mr Kejriwal spoke to his wife Patricia the next day.

“She told me that she was a scrub nurse in cardiac theatre at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. And then we realised that I worked with her for six months in 1995.

What a small world!!” Mr Meldrum-Hanna asked his former student: “Did I teach you well?” to which Mr Kejriwal replied: “Bill, I am managing your chest injury the way you taught me. Time will tell.” Mr Meldrum-Hanna has been discharged and is now recovering at his bach in Turangi until he is able to fly back to his work in Sydney.

Unfortunately there will be no fishing this trip.


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