Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dr. Raj, Dad's Neurosurgeon 2011

The strangest most awful thing happened on Fathers' Day. My father's brain surgeon, Dr. Viswanathan Rajaraman, the one who gave him two brain surgeries, died in a plane crash. He was piloting his own plane and died in a runway crash in Ohio along with his wife. It's hard to explain how terrible I felt when I heard this news.

Dr. Rajaraman was the Head of Neuro-Oncology at Valley Hospital in New Jersey. He was a genius who saved many lives. If my father had only had a brain tumor, Dr. Raj's surgery would have saved his life as well. Unfortunately, my dad's cancer was advanced in other organs. Dr. Raj never treated him like a lost cause, and he spent time explaining everything to us. And because of his surgery my dad was able to regain his speech and mobility in the last months of his life. Dad could tell us how he felt, and what he wanted, and call his family who wasn't there. For a man who was so physically fit his whole life, it was equally important to him that he was able to walk and move his arms thanks to the surgery. He was only able to come home because the surgery and rehab allowed him to walk up the stairs of his apartment. Dr. Raj did so much for us, and for so many other people, and he did it with kindness.

It's eerie and upsetting to think that I sat in a room with these two men last July, and that less than a year later, they're both gone; that they had this then-unknown shared fate. At 54 years old, Dr. Raj was even younger than my father.  He could have helped so many more people. His wife was also a physician, and she was only 50 years old.

My heart breaks for one person in particular, his daughter Kaavya.  When we met Dr. Raj he inquired about my job. When he learned that I'm an attorney he told me his daughter was a student at Georgetown Law. He was clearly very proud of her. She just graduated from law school in May, and her parents had come from visiting her before the accident.  I can barely imagine the horror and pain of losing both of your parents in one day.  Kaavya is just 24 years old and deserved so much more time with her parents. In the midst of this terrible personal tragedy, the reporters covering the story have been unkind to her. She is clearly a very smart and talented young woman, and I hope that she is able to find some peace.  I hope that she has family and friends that provide her with the support that she needs. And I hope she knows her father was very proud of her.

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