Dr Keki E. Turel: A Multifaceted Persona

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Eminent neurosurgeon Dr Keki E. Turel, in the 1980s, was among the pioneers of micro neurosurgery in India when the brain was being operated on with magnifying loupes.

It is well known that microneurosurgery is now the basis of all surgeries on the brain, spine and nerves, revolutionising the results by increasing the surgical scope and safety and minimising morbidity and mortality, which at one time was the bane of neurosurgery.

Dr Keki Turel has witnessed the evolution of neurosurgery from the pre-CT scan era of the seventies to the development of modern imaging and operating room technology.

Landmark Achievements

He was also the first Indian surgeon to have the courage and conviction to operate on the first two AIDS patients in the late 1980s when no one even dared to go near them due to the stigma attached to the then-dreaded disease.

Dr Turel is also credited with successfully removing two of the world’s largest brain tumours in 1982 and 1996, weighing more than half a kilogramm.

Blessed with a healer’s touch, he has resuscitated or returned to normal life several people who had been proclaimed dead or written off by other doctors.

It is commendable that Dr Turel has performed some of the longest neurosurgical operations, lasting 27 hours each, on three occasions: twice at the government-run JJ group of hospitals, where he served as an honorary Neurosurgeon from 1976 to 1993 and once at Bombay Hospital, where he performed eight back-to-back surgeries in 1996.

During the 2001 Kutch earthquake, Dr. Turel treated people who had suffered head and spinal injuries. Similarly, he faced another challenge at the time of the terrorist massacre in Mumbai on the night of 26/11 (2008). That night, when the terror victims were rushed to the hospital, he was the only senior consultant present to treat the wounded. He worked tirelessly, providing immediate intensive surgical care for three consecutive nights and days at the Bombay Hospital to several critically injured foreign and Indian nationals and the three NSG commandos.

Lectures and Writings

He is noted for meticulously documenting his cases and surgical procedures. He has given over 700 lectures and conducted microsurgical courses and workshops throughout India and in 67 countries across all continents.

He has also written on diverse neurosurgical conditions to educate family physicians and junior neurosurgeons. Dr. Turel recently edited Complications in Neurosurgery, Volume I, published by Springer Verlag (Germany), and Volume II is set to be printed soon.

Contribution Overseas

Dr Turel established neurosurgical departments in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, in the early 1980s and Sharjah in 1996, as well as contributed to neurosurgery development in Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Kenya.

Recognition, Memberships, Conferences

He has received over 20 awards in India and abroad and is a member of more than thirty national and international organisations.

In addition to writing papers and book chapters, Dr. Turel organised the world’s first teleconference to support medicine, an AT&T initiative.

Dr. Turel has previously served as president of several distinguished national and international societies, including the Asian Oceanian Society of Skull Base Surgery, Academia Eurasiana Neurochirurgica, Bombay Neurosciences Association, Neurological Society of India, and the Mid-West Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

He has also organised landmark International and National Conferences in Mumbai, for which he served as President. The last three were a series of “International Conference on Complications in Neurosurgery (ICCN)” held in March 2017 and January 2019 in Mumbai and virtually in March 2021.

The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) has formed a new Committee on “Complications in Neurosurgery” under his chairmanship. In September 2021, The WFNS Foundation granted him “A Master of Neurosurgery” with the following citation: “Dr Keki Turel is not only a world-class neurosurgeon internationally recognised due to his enormous experience in brain operations for top difficulty cases but also a wonderful person whose charm captivates everybody.”

Medical Tourism

In addition to his busy practice and travel, he is currently working to establish a large, much-needed International Neurosciences, Trauma, and Rehabilitation Centre, including Education and Research, in Mumbai, which will be dedicated to the people of India and will also serve as a hub for Medical Tourism.

Dr Turel completed a two-year fellowship at Han-Nanver, Germany, with one of the world’s most well-known neurosurgeons, professor Madjid Samii.

He holds various degrees from India, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States and was given Hon. FRCS from Edinburgh without examination in 2002.

Dr. Turel has designed and patented a few surgical instruments for brain and spine surgeries.

The popular doctor was professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Bombay Hospital and headed the department from 1993 to 2011.

Manifold Interests

In addition to his qualifications and medical achievements, Dr Turel is a well-known photographer. He has had solo exhibitions and received honours for his photography. He is also a filmmaker, stage actor, sportsman, fitness enthusiast, linguist (speaks seven languages), musician, and Zoroastrian priest. He also enjoys nature and has been a vegetarian since he was seven.

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