“I believe that speech and communication are not a privilege but a right. One cannot hold them back from a patient only because they are poor”—Dr. Vishal Rao U S
“Vaidya Narayana Hari”— aka Doctor is the visible God says Indian Scriptures. While every profession is inclined towards profiteering medicine is no exception. But we often find philanthropists in every profession who uphold the dignity of their work. This Abdul Kalam Fan Club post brings to you Dr. Vishal Rao U S who has played the role of an inventor in addition to his duty as specialized Oncology, Neck & Head Surgeon. He soothes thousands of throat cancer patients’ life by providing indigenously built voice prosthesis (Artificial Voice Box) device available at only Rs.50 and is popularly known as AUM Voice Prosthesis or 1$ Voice Box. While the imported Voice Prosthesis device is available at a whopping price of Rs. 20000 to 30000 and has to be replaced every six months this invention of Dr. Vishal Rao has truly revolutionized the life of unprivileged sections of society to regain their voice after undergoing throat operation. The satisfaction Dr. Rao derives when his patients call him or meet him to express their gratitude for making their life enjoyable is immense and this keeps him ticking in the profession.
A Brief Bio
Dr. Vishal Rao has expertise in the field of Oncology and Head & Neck Surgery and graduated from one of the prestigious cancer institutes of India, Tata Memorial Hospital based in Mumbai. Currently, He is with Bangalore-based HealthCare Global (HCG) Cancer Center. He prefers prevention approach rather than palliation approach to oncology and is associated with various social groups to work on holistic healing. He runs an initiative called Heal your life, heals your cancer. He is associated with the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the USA as a Visiting Scholar. Also, he is a Consultant at the Institute of Public Health and a Director of the Cancer Prevention and Tobacco Control Project with W.H.O Tobacco Free Initiatives partners. He is also a Member of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Globalink – Global Tobacco Control, Executive Board Member of the State Association for Otolaryngology – Head Neck Surgery, Karnataka and a Member of the Action Council against Tobacco (ACT) – India.
Most importantly more than all these formal roles played by Dr. Rao, His philanthropic mindset for helping out the needy earned him respect from all quarters of society. Before he could invent AUM Prosthesis, He used to help cancer patients to obtain subsidized treatment facilities by either raising funds from donators or by obtaining discounts from pharmaceuticals. He himself reveals that He is against the trend of donating old clothes to poor people as they deserve to wear new clothes not old ones. The same principle is adopted in the device invented by him (AUM Prosthesis). It is provided at an affordable price without compromising quality.
The Necessity & Impetus behind AUM Prosthesis invention
During his practice as oncologist at Bengaluru, Dr. Vishal Rao met a patient from remote village of Karnataka, whose voice box was removed after cancer operation and he had lost hopes of leading a meaningful life as he couldn’t speak and couldn’t afford to buy imported voice prosthesis device and stopped consuming food for nearly a month. Dr. Rao promised this patient of improving his conditions. He started conceptualizing an affordable Voice Prosthesis device. He had all the technical knowledge of developing such a device but the needed manpower and financial support were not available. But destiny did not deprive him of going ahead with the idea. One of his friends Shashank Mahesh, met him the same day he treated this patient. Shashank being an industrialist came forward to take forward Dr. Rao’s idea. Both of them meticulously worked for two years and came up with a device called AUM Prosthesis. Today it has revolutionized the way thousands of throat cancer patients communicate who otherwise would have been paralyzed from God-given gift of speaking. Many heart touching incidences are part of Dr. Rao’s professionally life. Here is one such incidence of a cancer patient from Kolkata who came all the way to Bengaluru to meet Dr. Vishal Rao. He was very depressed as he could not swallow food and speak properly. He had no financial support to get proper treatment. His only hope was Dr. Vishal Rao. Dr. Rao examined him and provided him with a treatment that lasted for only 5 minutes. Surprisingly the man from ‘city of joy’ had regained his speaking abilities. He waited for three hours for the doctor to come back from another surgery and hugged him and thanked him from the bottom of the heart with overwhelming joy before returning back to home.
What is Voice Prosthesis in Nutshell?
Basically, Voice prosthesis is a device made of silicone. It helps patients to speak when the entire voice box or larynx is removed. After operation windpipe and food pipe are separated from each other creating an opening between them. Prosthesis device is inserted in that opening.
Natural Voice Box basically vibrates with the help of air coming from lungs. In the cancer patients whose voice box is removed, Instead of the voice box, the food pipe is made to vibrate. The noise created by this vibration, in turn, coordinates intelligently with brain to produce speech
The name AUM Prosthesis signifies the fact that first-ever voice that resonated on mother earth is ‘OM’ or AUM. And AUM stands for Creation, Nurturing, and Destruction.