Dr. GM Taori
Correspondence Address: Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None DOI: 10.4103/neuroindia.NI_858_16
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Dr. GM Taori, MD, FRCP (June 1-1932 June 18, 2015) was a renowned Indian Neurologist, researcher, great teacher, public health activist, and philanthropist. Dr. GM Taori was also widely known for introducing and establishing Neurology as a branch of Medicine in central India.
Dr. Taori was born at Paradsinga, Madhya Pradesh. He completed his school studies at Swavlambi Vidyalaya, Wardha and Navbharat Vidyalaya, Wardha. He completed M.B.B.S from the Government Medical College, Nagpur in 1957, and subsequently pursued Master of Medicine postgraduate course at the same medical college, under Nagpur University in 1960. In 1966, he received superspecialization fellowship in Neurology (FRCP), from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Dr. Taori had immense interest in Neurology, and aptly joined as a lecturer in the Neurology Department of the prestigious Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore in June 1962 and worked there until April 1964. He pursued his career in Neurology and allied neurosciences and joined senior residency in Neurology in Montreal Neurological Institute, Canada from July 1965 to August 1966.
In the second phase of his personal career after returning from Canada, he again joined as a Reader in Neurology, Department of Neurological Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore in March 1968 and continued in the capacity of an Associate Professor; he was also appointed as Professor of Neurology Department in 1972 and continued in this capacity till March-April 1973. He was a Visiting Professor of Neurology at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sewagram, Wardha for the period 1973–1976. He also provided his services as a Neurologist at the Gopikrishna Neuro Clinic, Nagpur from 1973 to 1984.
In the third phase of his career, he became the Founder Director and Chief Neurologist, Central India Institute of Medical Sciences, (CIIMS) Nagpur in July 1984 and worked there till his demise. He developed a state-of-the-art, 125-bedded neurological institute and a research laboratory. The institute treats many economically backward patients at a subsidized rate or even free of cost. In general wards, the charges are subsidized and further financial relief is given to deserving patients [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6].
His principal areas of research included central nervous system infections, especially the diagnosis and management of tuberculous meningitis, and the study of free and bound N-acetyl neuraminic acid in the cerebrospinal fluid of central nervous system infections. He also developed a kit for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen in the cerebrospinal fluid of cases with tuberculous meningitis and utilized a proteomic approach for the differential diagnosis of latent versus active tuberculosis. His research interests included the study of heat shock proteins and cytokines in the diagnosis and pathogenesis of tuberculous meningitis; and, the diagnostic value of 30 KD protein, comprising the antigen 85 complex, in extra-central nervous system tuberculosis. He played a role in devising a novel multiplex polymerase chain reaction for the simultaneous identification and discrimination of M. tuberculosis, M. avium complex, and other nontuberculous Mycobacteria directly from the clinical specimen. He also took an active interest in studying shock proteins as possible biomarkers in pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis, and mycobacterial dormancy regulon protein Rv2623 as a novel biomarker for the diagnosis of latent and active tuberculous meningitis. He was also interested in the development of immunological tests for the early diagnosis of Chikungunya fever. His other area of interest was stroke and he evaluated the role of in vitro clot lytic properties of Fagonia Arabica.
He also contributed chapters in many Neurology books with topics related to neurological manifestations in tropical sprue and neurological manifestations in nutritional deficiencies. He published approximately 100 scientific papers in international and national journals.
He was awarded the E Merck Gold Medal Award in 1972. He got the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Department of Neurological Sciences, CMC, Vellore and by the Neurological Society of India, both in the year 1999. He was also awarded the “Professional Excellence Award” in 2003 by the Academy of Medical Sciences, Nagpur. He was the recipient of Vidarbha Gaurav Award 2004, presented by the Vidarbha Krishi Pratisthan, Nagpur. In 2004, he was presented the “Lifetime achievement award” by Madras Neuro Trust, Chennai. He was also awarded the “E C Eduljee Vocational Excellence Award” in 2004-05 by the Rotary Club of Nagpur and the “Nagbhushan Award” 2005 by the Nagbhushan Award Samiti, Nagpur.
He was not only a physician par excellence but also a great researcher who initiated or actively participated in more than 100 scientific research projects leading to an advancement in the detection and treatment of dreaded diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis, and stroke.
He was s strict disciplinarian, ever willing to accept his own faults and ready to take corrective steps to improve; and, unwilling to sacrifice his convictions for any individual's benefit. He helped the unprivileged and actively participated in the advancement of medical education as well as research, and in the treatment of central nervous system tuberculosis, stroke, and viral encephalitis.
Contributed by: Guru D. Satyarthee, Bhawani S. Sharma
The first meeting
I had finished my neurosurgical training and was working as a senior registrar. One day when I approached my professor to discuss about my future course of action, he advised me to learn more rather than earn, at least for a couple of years. He had recently received a letter from one Dr. G M Taori, who was looking for a young neurosurgeon. I had never heard of him and Nagpur meant only the 'city of oranges' to me! “Are you interested?” he asked. When I nodded in agreement, he warned, 'Dr. Taori is a strict disciplinarian and a hard task master and won't pay much.' Well, this respected professor of mine was no less in these qualities. We used to call him 'tiger' behind his back so this statement did not scare me an iota. I wrote a letter directed to the address given by my professor and got a prompt reply addressing me as 'My dear Dr. Lokendra Singh.' The letter was certainly typed on an antique “Brother” typewriter with a worn out tape. I took a few days leave, packed my bag and baggage and left for Nagpur.
At Nagpur railway station, when I asked the auto rickshaw drivers to take me to CIIMS, their faces had a blank look. I must have asked four to five drivers to take me there but there was no response. Finally, when I said that Dr. Taori works there, suddenly the scenario changed, and in a jiffy, one of them took me to Central India Institute of Medical Sciences (CIIMS). The building looked as if it was still under construction when it actually was not. The building itself disappointed me. I was expecting a lavish, shining glass-and-granite fitted one. After all, as a young neurosurgeon, I had a dream to work in a neuroscience and cardiac super-specialty institute, which this institute did not resemble, by any stretch of imagination. Well, a bigger surprise was waiting for me inside in the form of Dr. G M Taori MD, FRCP (Canada).
I was expecting a properly-suited gentleman, wearing gold-rimmed glasses, befitting a foreign-returned high-profile consultant. And, here I was meeting a very frail man wearing a white pant and a white shirt, leather slippers and a Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) Janata wrist watch! I almost instantly decided not to join. The last nail in the coffin was the salary. It was way below the standard salary being offered at that time. I very politely asked him to hike it reasonably but he was very abrupt in saying 'no.' I was now sure that I did not want to work here. Suddenly, Dr. Taori offered to take me around the hospital. I had come a long way just for this, so I agreed unenthusiastically.
The wards were clean and full of patients and it brought a tinge of satisfaction on my otherwise gloomy face. There was nothing like an intensive care unit, and all the patients, after surgery, were kept only in the wards. Finally, we reached the operation theatre. He left me there with the nurse in-charge. I went through all the registers like a shrewd inspector and was pleased to note that a good number and variety of cases were being operated every month. And, I would be the lone neurosurgeon to operate upon all these patients, was my greedy thought! “I will stay for two years, operate a lot and then push off to some good hospital on a good salary. Perhaps I should not care about the lesser salary for the time being.” I had my strategy planned out smartly. Once having satisfied myself with the amount of prospective work that this institute had to offer, I went to meet him again. “Have you seen the types of operations being performed here?” He asked in a very commanding voice as if reading my thoughts. It was he who was desperately looking for a neurosurgeon after being abandoned by so many! I certainly did not like his tone but the number of cases being done there every month was a big bait for me, and he probably could sense that. “Do you want to join?” he asked and I nodded in affirmation. He called 'Bandu', the peon, and packed me to the accounts department with instructions to meet him again.
The accounts department was composed of just two people sitting at an ordinary desk. One of them was more authoritative than the director himself. He was a retired man from the forces and was treating me as if I was a new rookie at an army training centre! He took all my original papers and then inspected me from head-to-toe as if to ascertain whether I was combat ready or not and then dismissed me. I went back to Dr. Taori and asked for permission to leave. I took my bags and was about to leave his small office when he asked me, “Where are you going?” On listening to my plans of checking in a hotel for two days before leaving, he simply asked Bandu to put my bags in his old Fiat car.
The car was forced to work well beyond its retirement age and would run even when the engine key would slip out of its socket. In fact, it was a combo of a car-cum-gym! The gear shaft was very rugged and needed a lot of force to shift, and so were the clutch, brake and accelerator. Driving it twice a day amply made up for lack of exercises. He drove it with great passion and pride and did not like my suggestion on the dire need to change it. He got its cosmetic surgery done several times and got many organs transplanted until one day, it organised its own euthanasia. This event took place after two decades of my first encounter with it, after which he changed his car to a Tata Nano! By that time CIIMS was already transformed into a respected medical centre and most of the other doctors working under him, including myself, were already driving big swanky luxury cars!
The last meeting (A duel with death)
He had developed chest infection and was feeling weak. It was necessary to admit him in the intensive care unit. We were all worried. It was not that he had become sick very recently. A triple artery by-pass surgery performed fifteen years ago, a very weak ejection fraction and a failed attempt at installing a pace-maker were already in his kitty but everyone else, rather than himself, were more bothered about his health!
Any other person in his place would have lost the battle long ago. But Dr. Taori was made of a different material. He was surviving for a dream he had seen at Montreal, Canada, long ago; the dream to create a super-specialty institute back home in India. He had to resign from a job at Vellore, and be away from a task so close to his heart- teaching. His dream kept him restless and finally it culminated in his raising a marvel of an institute, the Central India Institute of Medical Sciences, although he had to undergo a lot of hardships to realise his dream.
The institute was running well but he still had many projects in his mind and many of his missions had been left unaccomplished. Many bottlenecks, working problems and disharmony among the departments at the institute needed to be ironed out. He did take these problems head on and sorted them out even in the face of death. Death was chasing him relentlessly in the last four months of his life, but how could he afford to die? He knew his wish to start a world class rehabilitation centre at Nagpur was beyond his reach considering the circumstances but to start a complete imaging centre at CIIMS was his latest focus.
He wanted to see the completion of all the related deals in front of his eyes. And, what a race he had with death to achieve that! Lots of meetings, negotiations and counter negotiations were needed while death was bent upon weakening him with every passing day. But he could not be bogged down; he snatched away enough time and strength to complete the task. As he lost the strength to walk, he started using a wheel chair. When he lost the strength to talk, he started using a microphone to conduct the meetings! His whole office had shifted to his private room ward at the CIIMS hospital. People coming to meet him would be amazed and become awestruck and flabbergasted. He became even more determined and stubborn during the last few days. He was a man in a great hurry to complete his mission. Being an astute clinician, he knew for sure that his days were numbered. In fact, he had a premonition of the timing as well. In the routine Saturday meeting, which was held just three days before his death, he said categorically that it was his last meeting with the team members!
All the concerned persons were kept on their toes. He wouldn't let them become lax at all and would confirm and re-confirm the facts, pass instructions in a hardly audible, weak voice and would ask for a quick feedback. This process was so intense that many people thought that he was getting confused and disoriented The main executives of a private firm from Germany were chased for a major discount on all the equipment. Finally, he prevailed and got an unprecedented discount on the deal.
This was not the end of the process. There was also the need to negotiate with banks and various financial agencies regardng the loan. The meeting was getting delayed for reasons beyond our control. He would get frustrated and restless and would remind all the concerned people again and again for an early meeting. On the eve of final discussions, after completing all the formalities, all the members of the committee went into the ICU where he had been shifted due to further worsening of his condition. He was informed about the good news. The emotions he expressed were infectious! We all felt happy to see him smiling and beaming with satisfaction. It was about 7 O'clock in the evening. His restlessness had disappeared and he appeaed in great peace. People around him took it as a sign of significant improvement in his condition. But, was it really so? No way! It was just his thanksgiving to death which had been begging him, “Girdhar, please give up now. Whatever you strived for has all been done and I am tired of this duel with you.”
At midnight, when I was in deep slumber, I got a call that Dr. Taori's heart was gradually failing. I rushed to the hospital. He was surrounded by all his dear ones from the family along with intensivists, physicians and cardiologists. People were crying, sobbing and discussing in hushed voices but unmindful of this, he was requesting everybody not to cry. He sternly requested that no life-saving intervention like an endotracheal tube or a ventilator be instituted for him. Who could defy him? He was a strict disciplinarian as well as a tough man and fearless to the core. He was a man of slight frame and small body but with the grit and strength of steel; a man who had prevailed and turned seemingly unsurmountable situations in his life to his advantage. Even in his death, we had no guts to do anything against his wishes. We had no choice but to obey him! He asked the doctors to remove the non-invasive ventilator (bi-pap) and called for me. “Lokendra, you have to take everyone with you.” These were his last words of advice to me before asking for forgiveness from the the staff members at CIIMS hospital.
Finally, he folded his hands saying 'namaste' to everyone and started chanting 'Ram-Ram.' He gradually kept sinking and we doctors did all we could, without defying his instructions. Finally, at 4.30 am, he breathed his last.
His honest conduct, strict work ethics, fearlessness, intelligence, ruthless pursuit of any goal he had set for the institute and simple life style simultaneously generated immense respect and irritation for lesser mortals like us. Why irritation? Because, it was so difficult to follow his standards and match his single mindedness! I have never seen a man like him. Have you?
Contributed by: Dr. Lokendra Singh
[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]