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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 69-70

Dr. H.S. Adenwalla: The man, the mission

The Charles Pinto Centre for Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies, Jubilee Mission Medical College and RI, Thrissur, Kerala, India

Date of Submission25-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance03-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Puthucode V Narayanan
The Charles Pinto Centre for Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies, Jubilee Mission Medical College and RI, Thrissur - 680 005, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jclpca.jclpca_19_20

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How to cite this article:
Narayanan PV. Dr. H.S. Adenwalla: The man, the mission. J Cleft Lip Palate Craniofac Anomal 2020;7:69-70

How to cite this URL:
Narayanan PV. Dr. H.S. Adenwalla: The man, the mission. J Cleft Lip Palate Craniofac Anomal [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 20];7:69-70. Available from: https://www.jclpca.org/text.asp?2020/7/2/69/291136

Talmud: “The day is short

And the work is long.

The reward is great

And the master praises

It is not incumbent on thee

To finish the task,

But thou must not therefore

Cease from it”

This was a quote often used by Dr. H. S. Adenwalla in his speeches. That seemed to be a guiding principle of his, and he never ceased from his efforts at attempting perfection in all that he did.

He was born on June 5, 1930, at Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. He completed his professional education in Mumbai; MBBS, MS (1955) from Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College and KEM Hospital. He was a senior registrar at the Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital where he trained in pediatric surgery from doctors Arthur de Sa, Katrak, and Rustom Irani and in plastic surgery from Charles Pinto. The latter's work kindled in him a lifelong passion for the treatment of cleft lip and palate children.

Following his training, he desired to work with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa as a medical missionary. However, yielding to the request of his family, he embarked instead on a career in Thrissur in Kerala at the Jubilee Mission Hospital in 1959.

This was a small dispensary at that time. Through his dynamic all-round surgical mettle, this center developed into a major hospital catering especially to the poor masses. He was fondly called the “Saheb-Doctor” by the local population in view of his appearance. For the last 40 years of his life, he restricted his work to the wholesome treatment of cleft lip and palate children.

His surgical prowess was appreciated by Ralph Millard who mentioned his work in Volume I and Volume III of his path-breaking master piece – Cleft Craft.[1],[2]

He used the Millard's rotation advancement procedure for unilateral cleft lip and introduced technical refinements in cleft lip repair.[3] He produced notch-free vermillions by following a protocol that he developed.[4]

He believed like his mentor Charles Pinto that in the repair of the cleft lip, it was the nose that separated the men from the boys. Thus, he embarked on a closed primary rhinoplasty for the improvement of the ala. He also repositioned the deviated septum through an aggressive approach which was perhaps one of the most aggressive of all the described techniques.[3] This enabled him to get well-nigh perfect lips and nose in his patients.

For the microform cleft lip, he devised a cutaneous Millard technique for minimal intervention to obtain the best scars.[3]

However, his main passion was for the cleft palate. His extensive mobilization of the nasal layer with utmost ease to bring together even the widest of cleft palates stunned most of his visitors.

The uvula, according to him, was enigma within an enigma referring to the doubts regarding its functional role in the speech. He devised his own original technique of uvula repair[5] and produced near-normal uvulas in all his cleft patients.

While his surgical skills were of the highest caliber, his humane personality left an indelible memory in every person with whom he acquainted.

He was a multifaceted personality. As one of the greatest orators ever, he mesmerized audiences at conferences; as a teacher, he enthralled his trainees through his teachings, especially during operating sessions; as a team leader, he took the Charles Pinto Centre and the entire hospital to great heights and was a father figure to all his colleagues; as a student, he had the greatest respect for all his teachers and extolled their virtues at every opportunity; as a founder-President of the Indian Society of Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies, he, along with his like-minded friends like Suresh Tambewekar, was instrumental in bringing together all the different specialties involved in cleft care under one umbrella. But, above all, as a medical missionary, he treated all his patients with the greatest compassion, ensuring that none was turned away for want of funds – to this end, he garnered financial support for such treatment from Dutch organizations such as Simavi and Rotary International and later on from Smile Train.

He authored numerous publications, made many remarkable presentations and orations, and contributed chapters to textbooks. Awards came to him one following the other – the Joseph McCarthy Award for Excellence in Medicine and Humanitarian Services in November 2006, Lifetime Achievement Award by the Kerala Chapter of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India (KPSA) in 2018, and Plastic Surgeon of the Year Award by the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India.

He held several prestigious posts that were bestowed upon him in view of his expertise. He was the first President of the Indian Society of Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Board, Smile Train, New York, and Medical Advisory Committee, Smile Train, India.

There have been several cleft surgeons with great surgical dexterity in this world. However, Dr. Adenwalla was one of a kind having left an impression on the souls of his patients, friends, colleagues, teachers, trainees, and family alike, in fact on every single individual that he got acquainted with. Dr. Adenwalla passed away on May 27, 2020, but his memory and his legacy will never ever fade away.

  References Top

Millard Dr. Jr. Early proponents of the Rotation advancement principle. In: The Evolution of Its Surgery 1. The Unilateral Deformity. Boston: Little Brow; 1976. p. 208-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Millard Dr. Jr. Refining the V-Y palate repositioning. In: Alveolar and Palatal Deformities. Boston: Little Brown; 1976. p. 438.  Back to cited text no. 2
Adenwalla HS, Narayanan PV. Primary unilateral cleft lip repair. Indian J Plast Surg 2009;42:562-70.  Back to cited text no. 3
Narayanan PV, Adenwalla HS. Notch-free vermillion after unilateral cleft lip repair: The charles pinto centre protocol. Indian J Plast Surg 2008;41:167-70.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Adenwalla H S, Narayanan PV. Primary Cleft Palate repair. In: Mani V. Surgical Correction of Facial Deformities. New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers(P) LTD; 2010. p. 153-64.  Back to cited text no. 5


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