Orthopedic Shoulder & Hand Surgeon Dr. Alejandro Badia, The man who fixes the hand
World-famous United States hand and shoulder specialist surgeon Dr Alejandro Badia was playing with 62-year-old Mayaro contractor Ken Singh's hand like it was a little puppy he was petting, deftly kneading the bruised flesh. That was the first the Sunday Guardian saw of Badia when responding to the Caribbean Hand Centre's (CHC) invitation to attend a first anniversary ceremony at its 16 Alcazar Street, St Clair location, on January 29. The occasion was also to host a farewell party for Badia, the CHC's main consultant, who after yet another fleeting visit to T&T, will be returning to his headquarters in south Miami where he is Chief of Hand Surgery at the Baptist Hospital.
As Badia wandered off to socialise, Singh exhibited his twisted right hand and told the Sunday Guardian that 14 months ago it was mangled in a concrete mixer. Without thinking, he had inserted his hand in the mixer while it was in operation to extract a sample of the concrete for mixing. His hand was caught up in the machinery and when the dust settled, according to Singh, the limb was "hanging by a thread of skin." Doctors in T&T tried to save the hand, but felt he would eventually lose the limb. Until Padia's intervention, using all of his surgical skill. Now it will never be the same again, but according to the proud Singh, Padia predicts he will again have 60 per cent mobility in the hand. To Singh, that is a miracle by any stretch of the imagination.
Riley thanks his lucky stars
Another man who thanks his lucky stars for Padia's skill in wrist and small joint arthoscopy is better known in T&T. He's Robert Riley, bpTT's chief executive and CHC's chairman. As he addressed the gathering on the occasion of the centre's first anniversary, holding up a wine glass in a toast, Riley told the guests the left hand holding the vessel had been crippled by arthritis, but Badia had been surgically instrumental in healing him to the extent that he was again able to grasp a glass. Padia's main liaison in T&T at the CHC is Dr Godfrey Araujo who is busily learning as much as he can at the feet of the great man.
Thanks to modern technology Araujo said, he can communicate with Badia via the internet and by cellphone for assistance on some of the more difficult cases that come the CHC's way. "We are taking difficult cases for example, a man who was burnt on both hands. Thanks to Dr Badia's help we can fix problems that were inconceivable a few years ago," said Araujo. Badia told the Sunday Guardian the inspiration for his specialising in hand surgery was his grandmother, Consuelo, who suffered with crippling arthritis. Working alongside Araujo is sports medicine specialist Dr Anil Gopeesingh and the pair are supported by physiotherapists Lisa Niles, Khrisy Lewis, Stephen Frankland and Anna Salvatori. It was stressed that no matter how good the surgical repair job was on the human body, the physiotherapy was just as important in the healing process.