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Dr Modi flies an extra mile to serve mankind

Dr Modi flies an extra mile to serve mankind
March 01
05:20 2018

Flying Doctors team

CHICAGO: A highly successful Indian physician with huge penchant for community service, Chandrakant Modi felt his dream realized when he joined select band medical professionals ‘Flying Doctors of America’ over a decade ago. Now he has proved himself to be an indispensable and integral part of the team roving around the world to help those in dire medical need.
When Modi was growing up in India, his father suggested a career in medicine because it would enable him to earn a decent living while also helping the needy. Retrospecting, Modi feels happy that he listened to his father’s advice. Getting a medical degree in India and finishing residency in the Chicago area, he pursued a successful career in the US that has included pathology and emergency medicine.

Despite his professional success, what has given him the greatest sense of fulfillment is that he finally decided to heed his father’s advice to do something good for society. He decided to give a good part of his time for reaching out to needy not necessarily in Chicago but even to distant places and countries. For the past twenty years, his passion and his mission has taken him to different parts of USA and even to different countries abroad by joining the band of Flying Doctors of America, a division of Medical Mercy Missions, Inc.

Under its banner, volunteer medical professionals fly to remote villages in countries including Haiti, Madagascar, Amazon, Panama, Jordan and the borders between India and Tibet. There is no cost to the patient for the expert medical attention these doctors offer, and for the physicians, the heartfelt appreciation of the patients is beyond material value.

Mission in Fiji

“The trips to provide medical care have been very rewarding,” said Dr. Modi, now an energetic septuagenarian living in Skokie, Ill. “The people in underserved areas need care, and they appreciate our presence. Our missions bring hope and healing to the poorest of poor people.”
Gratitude can often be symbolized in a priceless token of appreciation. “I was deep in the Amazon Jungle Basin area on one occasion,” Dr Modi recalled. At the end of our stay the tribal chief came up to me, and gave me a comb he said he had made out of an animal’s bone.”
“I didn’t need it but it was given from the heart. I still have it, and consider it one of my most valuable possessions.”

Flying Doctors is a Not for Profit organization founded by Allan Gathercoal DD, based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Flying Doctors organizes mercy missions about half-dozen times a year to remote areas where residents do not have regular access to medical care. The trips are designed to bring hope and healing to those with limited or no access to medical care. Doctors, nurses, dentists and on-ground support personnel pay their own fares. The medication they dispense is also purchased from private health-care companies based in US.

The sites they visit can be in a remote jungle in the Amazon basin off the cost of Ecuador, or in part of the world like the war torn Syrian border mission near Jordan. The Doctor has volunteered in other 3rd world countries to include Madagascar, Mexico, Panama, Fiji and three different times in India. As per doctor Modi, every mission has its unique challenges mainly due to terrain, remoteness and lack of accessibility of the area.
His 2001 mission was in Himalayan area of border between Tibet and India in a far off tiny village, called Pso-Murari, situated at about 16,000 feet altitude, or just about 1000 feet below the first base camp of Mt. Everest. “We were faced with thin air, cold temperatures, altitude sickness and overwhelming response for medical care. And there we met with recently ‘re-incarnated highest ranking Buddhist Monk’, barely eight year old boy and I asked him what he wants from America. He replied “Toy cars for me to play”


Mission in Jordan

Other unique mission was in 2011 in Haiti, following the enormous destructive earthquake. The Mission was hastily organized by Mr. Allan Garthaercoal, President/founder of Flying Doctors. One of the surviving church buildings was converted into a 40-bed makeshift acute care hospital located near the suburb of capital city, called Cabaret. Many survivors extracted from the rubble were initially treated on the field, and transferred to ‘Hospital’.


“Patients were cared for on clinical judgment only, as routine facility like x-rays, lab, anesthesia, intravenous fluids, or operating room were all destroyed in the earthquake. Our work was further complicated by lack of electricity, running water, painkiller, drugs, gas or supplemental oxygen. It was like practicing civil war era 19th century type medicine. Most of the patients had trauma related crush injury including fractures, deep wounds, amputation of limb etc. We worked round the clock with very little rest or sleep. Despite all the adversities, it was very gratifying, unassuming experience that I will cherish forever,” said Dr Modi.
The missions often come with an element of risk and stress. “We were in Jordan, near the Syrian border, and many refugees needed medical care,” said the soft-spoken Dr Modi. “The lines were long to see doctors and there was a lot of stress because the refugees were frustrated and there were few facilities.”

In 2009 Dr Modi was recipient of President’s Circle Award given by Flying Doctors of America, in recognition of his contribution. Now semi-retired Dr Modi intends to go on many more such trips, in part to fulfill his father’s dream for his son.
During a long career of ongoing learning, Dr Modi had prepared himself for almost any problem. The possibility of danger to his life or limb has never deterred him. “I am a Hindu by faith and believe in destiny. When your time comes, it comes. I have never been fearful on these trips,” he said.

Dr Modi is also an avid traveler and has explored all seven continents including Antarctica and over 100 countries. Future missions by Flying Doctors are planned to countries including Panama, Guyana, Peru, a women’s prison in Bolivia etc.


Surendra Ullal



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