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Table of Contents    
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 961-962

Dr. Sunkara Balaparameswara Rao

Department of Neurosurgery, Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication23-Jul-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Subba Rao Bhavaraju
Department of Neurosurgery, Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.263261

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How to cite this article:
Bhavaraju SR. Dr. Sunkara Balaparameswara Rao. Neurol India 2019;67:961-2

How to cite this URL:
Bhavaraju SR. Dr. Sunkara Balaparameswara Rao. Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Sep 26];67:961-2. Available from:

The Neurological Society of India deeply regrets to place on record the demise of Professor Dr. Sunkara Balaparameswara Rao, on the 22nd March 2019. Dr. Rao, the father of neurosurgery in Andhra Pradesh was a legendary figure, a learned academician, an astute clinician, a meticulous neurosurgeon and an able administrator, who was known for his dedication, discipline, boldness, punctiliousness and efficiency.

Born in Bhimavaram in the West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh on 12th February 1928, Dr. Balaparameswara Rao (SBP Rao) had his early education in Bhimavaram and Machilipatnam. He entered the portals of the Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam, for his MBBS (1945-50) and later obtained MS in 1954 in General Surgery. As a student, he won many laurels and was the best outgoing student, a sportsman and a tennis champion He won the Major Ebden Gold Medal for his outstanding performance in his study for Masters in Surgery. He wrote his first paper as in an intern in Anesthesia. Having studied the intermediate course with Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry (MPC), he should have followed the Engineering stream in Madras, but for a postal delay of the information of his selection. It reached him too late for him to get into the engineering college; the medical college seat, however, was open to the students of the MPC stream at that time.

In recognition of his potential, and fortunately for the humongous number of followers in the later years of his career, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, especially the then Director of Medical Services, Major KN Rao, chose him for a deputation to Madras for a training in Neurosurgery under the great Prof. B Ramamurti. After a stint of nine months at Madras, Dr. Balaparameswara Rao established the Department of Neurosurgery at the King George Hospital (KGH)/Andhra Medical College (AMC) on the 2nd of April 1956.

The Department of Neurosurgery of the AMC and the KGH, in Visakhapatnam, was the fourth independent Department of Neurosurgery in India that was established in 1956; the Christian Medical College (CMC) at Vellore in 1949 under Prof. Jacob Chandy, the Madras Medical College (MMC) in 1950 under Prof. Ramamurti, and the G S Seth Medical College in 1953 under Prof. Ram Ginde having been established earlier than this college. While the three who started the departments earlier than him were essentially trained in the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. SBP Rao was the first to be trained in India; he was at MMC under Prof. Ramamurti. The Department of Neurosurgery was the first specialty department to be in these institutes, and in this part of the country.

His single-handed dedication and hard work amidst many hurdles, hardships and trepidations has resulted in what the department is today, and has enthused many others like Drs. Chalapathi Rao KV, I. Dinakar and the author to take up Neurosurgery as their careers and succeed him in the department. A department that started with 12 beds and rupees 3,000 as budget, today has grown to a unit with 120 beds, a dedicated neuro-intensive care unit, three operating rooms, an exclusive neurotrauma ward recognized as a level 1 neurotrauma care unit, and a postgraduate training center.

Dr. SBP Rao went to the United Kingdom under the Colombo Plan for a year in 1959 and visited the Departments of Neurosurgery at Bristol and Queen Square, London, United Kingdom, apart from other centers. 'Visited' was probably the right word, for he never was permitted to scrub up even to watch the surgeries from close quarters. Called a 'clinical assistant', his was an illustrious example of one's capacity and commitment to learn from mere observation.

One of the exemplary features of Dr. SBP Rao's work was excellent record-keeping. The meticulous maintenance and cataloging of the patients' records would have made any software specialist proud of the work that was conducted in the pre-computer era. The records and notes he maintained, of his daily observations in the United Kingdom, of every patient that he had treated both on the outpatient and inpatient basis, of every investigation and every surgery that he had done, of all the photographs taken, of all the 35mm transparencies made, as well as of all the compact discs of the data he had acquired and preserved, are a testimony of the unquestionable quality of his work that led to approximately 70 publications by Dr. I Dinakar and Dr. SBP Rao during the period from 1965 to 1970.

Prof. Balaparameswara Rao won the B C Roy award for his untiring efforts in developing the neurosurgical services in Andhra Pradesh. He headed the departments in the Osmania Medical College and the Nizam's Institute at Hyderabad. During the latter part of his career, he proved his administrative skills to be the Principal of Osmania Medical College, the first Superintendent and architect of what is today the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences.

He was also a Member and later a Fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and the Senate of Andhra University; and, the Vice President (1973) and later the President (1974) of Neurological Society of India. He was nominated as Emeritus Professor of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences. Other honours included the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences in 1999, Ugadi Puraskaram by the Andhra Pradesh Government in 2012, Lifetime Achievement Awards from different institutions like the Neurological Society of India, the Golden Jubilee Celebrations committee of Department of Neurosurgery of AMC KGH, the International Neuro Spinal Surgeons Association of India and the Asian Stroke Congress. He was the recipient of Honorary Doctorate of the Dr. N T R University of Health Sciences and the Gitam University.

Corporate hospitals had never attracted him. He dedicated his entire career to the service of the poor and needy by working in government and charitable institutions. He participated in charity work by running free clinics at the St Theresa's Hospital, Hyderabad, from 1983 to 2008 and at the Saibaba Temple, Panjagutta, Hyderabad, from 2002 to 2012. At the age of 90 years, he actively practiced Neurosurgery, catering to approximately 150 patients a week.

Advanced age and other disabilities never came in the way of his academic zeal. He was often seen arriving on time for the first session of any conference or seminar he attended and sitting and actively participating in the sessions right through till the valedictory function of the event. He had the rare privilege of witnessing and actively participating in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2016 of the department, which he had established in 1956. He was a central figure in the Andhra Pradesh Neuro Scientists Association (APNSA) meet at Nellore in 2017 and was honoured along with his wife, Smt. Nagaratnam, on their 63rd wedding anniversary.

In Mrs Nagaratnam, he had an able partner, who stood by him during his ordeals in the demanding field of Neurosurgery and in establishing and nurturing the Neurosurgery departments in Andhra Pradesh, in establishing and guiding the fortunes of the Nizam's Institute, and in supporting his achievements in the long years of active life. More importantly, she shared his work in the upkeep of records of the patients and his notes made at each of his academic endeavors. She also helped him in cataloguing them, as well as in searching for and retrieving these invaluable documents. He had the misfortune of putrasokam, his grown up son predeceasing him a few years ago. He was, however, the guiding spirit for many youngsters in his extended family and a constant source of support and encouragement to them.

Yes, he was truly a Karmayogi. On 22nd March 2019, the nonagenarian neurosurgeon left all of us in this earthly abode, to get the well-earned eternal rest. May his soul rest in peace.


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