Tag Archives: heart

Why I Gave Up Conventional Medical Practice To Build a Non-Profit

footprint in sand

I was in a restaurant, holding a steaming mug of hot java. With me were two friends. One I’ve known for 30 years. The other I’d just met 30 minutes back.

The social dance was on. We explored vital questions. Who are you and who do you know? What do you do, and why?

The conversation drifted to my writing, and my work with heart kids. I (briefly) explained how I create and sell infoproducts, using a part of the profits to sponsor life-saving heart surgery for children with congenital heart disease.

My new friend asked:

“Why do you do it? I mean, leave alone ‘feeling good’. Why else? What do you get from it?”

I picked up my coffee, and sat for a while in silence. I drank slowly, thoughtfully… and wondered how to answer the question. Then I replied the way I always do:

“Because I can.”

My modest needs are met from passive income sources that I worked hard to put in place. This frees me now to focus on things I want to do. And in the line of my professional work, I come across families without any alternatives to save their little kids with potentially fatal heart birth defects. I try to help them.

“Because I want to. And enjoy it.”

From the look on his face, I could see he wasn’t entirely convinced. And paradoxically, his doubt and uncertainty conveyed itself to me. On the drive back home, I kept returning to the question.

For a week later, I kept thinking about it.

Why do I do it?

There’s possibly a selfish drive behind my apparent altruism, a sublimated craving for recognition and acclaim. Or perhaps another motive is at play. But at most, it’s only an additional driver.

By itself, it may keep me going awhile.

But not for so long.

I’ve done this for 10 years. I’ll be doing it for another twenty. Or longer.

And not against these overwhelming odds.

I’ve overcome some major challenges. For each, there are dozens of smaller crises, just as frustrating and depressing.

Eventually, I kept coming back to the wise and inspirational words of my friend, mentor and role model, Frank McKinney, founder of ‘The Caring House’ project, who is fond of reminding us that:

“Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

I’ve always believed that much has been given to me. Proximity to suffering humanity in my role as a doctor, and good fortune to retain perspective on the frailty and uncertainty of our earthly existence have both combined to make me insanely grateful for thousands of little things that many take for granted, or even bemoan.

And then, I read an amazing blog by Derek Sivers. Founder of “CD Baby”. Author. Speaker. Musician. Philanthropist. Incredible human being.

He sold his company for $22 millionwhich he donated to charity!

In a remarkably short blog post, he explained why… and gave me the insight I’d been searching for all week long. (Many others probably felt that way, judging by the 1250+ comments on it!)

“It’s not that I’m altruistic. I’m sacrificing nothing. I’ve just learned what makes me happy. And doing it this way made me the happiest.”


I too am sacrificing nothing. In fact, I’m pursuing my twin dreams – of practicing a technically challenging specialty (pediatric heart surgery) while helping desperately needy families beat a killer health condition (congenital heart disease).

It makes me happy. Wildly, insanely happy. It makes my heart sing. It lends deep purpose and meaning to all that I do. It gets me out of bed, eager and excited about my day.

THAT’S why I do it.

Because I WANT to.

The best part of Derek’s post comes in his last line:

“But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough.”

Wow! How powerful is that?!

And true.

Unless you personally feel you have “enough”, it’s never easy to give to someone else.

Anxiety and stress kick in. Defences build up. Logic masks emotion.

And we put our noses back to the grindstone, trying to get “enough” for ourselves.

My work is a constant reminder TO MYSELF that I’m blessed with enough.

Yes, THAT’S why I do it.

Because I can.

Because I want to.

Because I have enough.


The Atrium – Storage Chamber and Booster Pump


In an earlier article, I’ve discussed the four heart chambers – the two upper chambers called atria, and the two lower ones called ventricles.

Let’s talk a little more about the atria.

The atria [singular : atrium] are thin walled upper chambers of the heart. There are two atria, one on the right and the other on the left.

The right atrium is located along the right border of the heart. The two great veins of the body – called the superior and inferior vena cava [SVC and IVC] – drain impure blood from the upper and lower halves of the body respectively. These two great veins ultimately empty into the right atrium.

From here, blood flows into the right ventricle across the tricuspid valve and thence into the lungs to be purified. The right atrium thus primarily functions as a storage chamber for “impure” venous blood en route to the lungs. 


What Is The Heart?

Heart Structure

“Go to your bosom
Knock there and ask your heart
What it doth know”

William Shakespeare.


The heart is the symbol of life. It is also a symbol of love. The heart also stands for courage – we talk about being lion-hearted. It also indicates joy and happiness – as in being a hearty soul.

In medical terms, the heart is the pump that supplies blood and provides energy to the rest of the body. We’ll take a quick look at how the heart is structured. This small, yet powerful, muscular pump has always fascinated me, and I hope some of this amazement will be transferred to you too!


The Heart – An Introduction

The Heart - An Introduction

Welcome to the virtual ‘Heart School’

The heart is a fascinating organ.

From the moment it begins beating, until it finally stops, the human heart works without a break. In a life-span of seventy years, the heart beats more than two and a half BILLION times, without ever pausing to rest.

And as it beats, it preserves LIFE.

No other organ has caught the imagination of painters and poets alike. Let danger threaten, and the thrilling heart skips a beat, and tight-rope walks arrhythmically. And all the while, we feel it, hear it even – WE, its stage and its audience.

It was not the livers or brains or entrails of saints that were lifted from the body in sublimest autopsy. It was the heart they cradled into worshipful palms, then soaked in wine and herbs and set into silver relinquaries for the veneration of the faithful.

It follows quite naturally that Love should choose such an organ for its bower. When Love blooms therein, the heart dances – and is lost to the loved one!

The heart has from time immemorial been surrounded by an aura of mystery and awe. Although some of this has been dispelled by the “cold reality” of modern science and technology, which has unravelled the mechanics of the heart, the air of fascination and wonder that the heart inspires in man has not diminished.

So JOIN ME THEN, and we will explore this wonderful organ….

  • Discover the complexities of its structure and function….

  • Journey down the blood stream and experience the efficiency of the circulation….

  • See how diseases of the heart are detected….

  • Marvel at the miracle that is “Open Heart Surgery”….

  • Learn about the people who make it happen….

  • Understand all about the different defects of the heart, and how they are treated.

And soon I hope your fascination and curiosity will turn into understanding and respect for this magnificent work of creation called THE HEART!

I’ll present to you the best the Internet has to offer about the heart.

You’ll have the chance to learn all about the intricate make up and function of the human heart. I will explain, with the help of pictures and photographs, how the heart looks and works… its chambers, walls, valves and blood vessels, the way it works to maintain life, and much more – all in the simplest language possible.

The articles you’ll find here are:

And as you begin to appreciate the great complexity of this wonder of creation, it will become obvious that damage and defects of the heart are indeed quite likely.

How does the “medicine man” know what is wrong with someone’s heart? Magic? Intuition? Guesswork? 

No, No, No!

It’s science, and highly advanced and technical stuff, at that. In the HEART LABORATORY you will read all about the tests doctors run to detect heart disease – from simple ones like an X-ray or EKG to the more esoteric ones like MRI and Isotope testing.

Although there are literally hundreds of diseases that can affect the heart, they may all be conveniently grouped under just FOUR major heads – CONGENITAL, VALVULAR, ISCHEMIC and CARDIOMYOPATHY. Over the past four decades, the science of repairing heart defects has evolved into a fine art.

And as science advances, doctors are trying their best to make treatment simpler, less painful, more successful and less expensive.

So if you’re ready to begin an exciting voyage to understand the heart, let’s get started.

Begin your journey here – click to read