Birth Anniversary
Born on this day in 1918, Govindappa Venkataswamy was raised in Vadamalapuram in Tamil Nadu.
  • Monday, October 01, 2018 - 12:15
Google

The Google Doodle on Monday celebrated the centenary of renowned ophthalmologist Govindappa Venkataswamy, known as 'Dr V' among his patients, who flocked to the Aravind Eye Hospital that he founded in Madurai.

Born on this day in 1918 in Vadamalapuram, Tamil Nadu, Venkataswamy was permanently crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. However, despite his own health issues, nothing could stop him from what he wanted to be.

He attended a school in his village where students had to write on sand which collected from the riverbank as there was no pencil and paper. Later he went on to study Chemistry at the American College in Madurai and earned a degree of M.D. from Stanley Medical College in Madras in 1944.

Right after completing his medical school Venkataswamy went on to join the Indian Army Medical Corps. However, a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis nearly crippled him and his career took a setback.

He was confined to bed for a year. When he returned to academics, Venkataswamy studied for a degree in ophthalmology in 1951.

Facing mandatory retirement at age 58, Dr V began the next phase of his career in 1976, establishing the GOVEL Trust in order to fund the first Aravind Eye Hospital. The 11-bed facility was financed by doctors mortgaging their homes and donating their own furniture. The vision was to devote six beds to those patients who could not pay anything and to cover those costs with the other five beds, serving patients paying only as much as they could afford.

Despite his health issues, he learned how to perform surgery to remove cataracts—the leading cause of blindness. Dr V could perform 100 surgeries in a day. Addressing the problem of blindness in a holistic fashion, he set up eye camps in rural communities, a rehab centre for blind people, and a training program for ophthalmic assistants, personally performing over 100,000 successful eye surgeries. In 1973, he received the Padmashree award from the Government of India for outstanding service to the nation.

He used to organise eye camps in rural communities, which would serve as a rehab centre for the blind and a training session for ophthalmic assistants, during this period he performed over 1,00,000 successful eye surgeries, the Google blog post said.