A Doctor who is also a Volunteer

The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.

- Dalai Lama

Volunteer_bhutan“There is a misconception amongst many that Voluntary work is something that only Chilips” do, said Dr. Lotay, a urologist who once worked at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu.  Dr. Lotay quit in 2012 to join politics, but although unfortunate for him that he didn’t make it, it was fortunate for many Bhutanese who now receive his services.

He is now spending his days traveling around the country with a team of voluntary medical workers performing free surgeries for patients who, otherwise, would have to wait for months to see a Doctor, often risking their health and even lives.  On a 10-day free surgery service stint in Bajothang, Wangdi recently, he performed 136 surgeries amongst many other services provided.  If this number of people went to the hospital, it would take about 6 months, he said.

Dr. Lotay is the middle child in a family of 3 boys.  Coming from a religious home where both his older and younger brother, were committed to Buddhism as monks he decided that when he finished grade 9, he too would become a monk.  But his parents who had already two boys in the monasteries decided against it.  And thanks to that intervention, Dr. Lotay went on to complete his studies and become a Doctor.

“My perception of religion had changed by then,” said Dr. Lotay.  “Before I thought that to do good I had to become a monk, but I learned as I continued with my education that there were many ways through which I could help people, and becoming a Doctor was one of the best,” he said.

And so right from the beginning after he joined the hospital, Dr. Lotay began working overtime for free performing numerous surgeries and check-ups on weekends.  According to him, there seemed to be a total underutilization of the resources available at the hospital.  This was because there weren’t enough Doctors.  According to him there are 4 Operation Theaters in Thimphu.  Only one remains open for 24 hours the other three from 9 am until 3 pm.Volunteer_Doctors_Bhutan

His motivation stems from a deep-seated need to change attitude towards work.  “Just qualifying academically to become a Doctor is not enough,” he said, “this profession needs you to sacrifice many things more.  In this profession we are dealing with human beings at their most critical stages in their lives – when they need help.”  According to him, there were many ways of being a role model or leading the way for the younger generation in a society that desperately needs these services – by going the extra mile to make a difference in people’s lives. “And the government has to do its part too, provide better working arrangements for health workers.

There has been a great outpouring of gratitude from people who have benefitted at the hands of the Doctor.  A facebook page dedicated to Dr. Lotay has a fine description of his good work.  There are also many who have come to support his efforts.  All in all, Dr. Lotay’s efforts seem to be snowballing into something big – setting an example by doing.

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