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Dr. Palin Khundongbam, an outstanding surgeon and a successful entrepreneur set to change the medical conditions for the people of Myanmar, believes, “Happiness is the only way to happiness. Unhappiness cannot solve our problems except draining our energy and enthusiasm. Unhappiness can be traced to the thinking of painful past experiences or the fear of the future. If we are conscious of our consciousness, we can remove these thoughts and be in the state of no thought but stillness or awareness at present. This is the time when we can innovate and succeed.” This positive spirit was very much fascinated by the grand stories of a few doctors and set out to pursue the profession. He bagged the degree of MBBS from RIMS, Manipur, and MS (General Surgery) and MCh (Plastic Surgery) from PGI Chandigarh.

Beginning of Shija

In the 1970s, Dr. Khundongbam saw that many patients from Manipur went to Dibrugarh and Alipore in Assam and CMC in Vellore for healthcare treatment. He realized people lacked trust in the local healthcare facilities. To rectify this situation, he started Shija Clinic, attached to a pharmacy at Paona Bazar, Imphal, in 1985, with minor operation facility and a side laboratory. Soon, Shija became a leader in piles treatment in eastern India by providing non-operative piles treatment facilities. The company grew and shifted to a rented, bigger, 9-bedded hospital on RIMS Road in 1988 and later expanded to 35-bedded multi-specialty hospital in three different rented buildings across the road. To overcome the structural and environmental problems, Shija visualized its own land with proper hospital architect and shifted to the current eco -friendly location, Langol, at the outskirts of Imphal.

Today, Shija has become a 250-bedded NABH (Pre-Entry) super-specialty hospital, having 25 departments with 880 dedicated care givers, post graduate DNB Courses in 5 departments, nursing, and paramedical institutes. It also has NABH Blood Bank and NABL Laboratory. Shija Foundation, an NGO, runs Shija Blood Bank, Smile Train Shija Cleft Project, Shija Eye Care Foundation, Shija Oxygen Plant, Shija Academy of Nursing and Shija Paramedical Research Academy. Over 3500 cleft lip and palate patients have been operated free of cost and given smiles on their faces under Smile Train, USA in Manipur, neighboring states and country of Myanmar. More than 12000 patients with cataract blindness have undergone free surgeries.

Set to Bring Positive Change

Resistance to change is the major challenge we face in the journey of Shija,” says Dr. Khundongbam. “We resist change for fear of uncertainty. We have been conditioned to think the same way right from the childhood period and developed a deep rooted belief system. We have been successful in changing the culture to some extent, but the war is not over until the war is over.” Due to the efforts taken by him and the organization as a whole, their relationship with the patients and their relatives has improved. Having started the journey with a strong passion, they at Shija continue to put the organization into system without losing that passion.

Through all the challenges in his way, Dr. Khundongbam has stayed highly motivated and emerged out better and better. Talking about this growth and what drives him, he asserts, “Gradually, we have become more spiritual than ever. We, now, realize that our thoughts are energies and will be manifested externally. We are responsible for our own thoughts and thus the destiny.”  He continues, “My relationship with the present moment is my motivating factor. It is the only space we have, nothing else. Everything in life unfolded in the now.

Dr. Khundongbam was a part of the surgery which set a Guinness World Record in April 2004. A ten days baby boy, weighing 3 kg, came in with a huge neck swelling and had a neck tumor. The tumor weighed 1.2 kg and they removed it successfully. The baby tolerated the major surgery well and recovered. The tumor was of 40% of the total body weight (TBW) and was the largest neck tumor ever excised successfully in the world. In 2004, they received the certificate for setting a new Guinness World Record and it was published in the book in 2006

Relentlessly Contributing to Enhance Care

Dr. Khundongbam performs around 100 cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries every month. He is, probably, one of the doctors performing highest number of Asian eyelid surgeries in India and at the same time looks after the organization for growth through innovative actions. Till date, Dr. Khundongbam has successfully done 339 free operations for cataract, cleft lip and palate, and key-hole surgeries in the much needed country, Myanmar, under the Shija Mission Myanmar. Customer needs and demands are the strong source of enthusiasm for him, to upgrade the facilities. Trust deficit in the local empathy and facilities has given him positive energy to bring more modern humane technologies in the state. He believes, “If there are thousand disadvantages, there will be thousand advantages also. It all depends upon how you look at the situations. I address the advantages we have in Manipur, rather than disadvantages we popularize.

Take on Recent Developments in Healthcare

About the latest developments in this industry, Dr. Khundongbam says, “The diseases which cannot be treated are tolerated. More and more illnesses which were once considered incurable are now curable with the advancement of newer technologies and human skills. It is also, now, realized that our different thoughts release different chemicals in the body and our cells respond to the chemicals. We are directly or indirectly participating in the disease or healing processes of the body. We may be able to halt the aging or reverse it one day.