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Dr Hirji Adenwalla: An Ocean Full of Memories and Smiles

Dr Hirji Adenwalla smiling with a surgeon

It has barely been a week since we lost our beloved partner surgeon, Dr. H.S. Adenwalla, who was an integral part of the Smile Train family. Today, 5th June, on his birth anniversary, we are paying a tribute to him by walking down memory lane. No words will ever be enough to capture the deep impact that he has created on countless lives, and this is but a humble attempt to paint a colourful picture of his long legacy. Our partner doctors at Jubilee Mission Hospital, Thrissur, who were lucky enough to work very closely with him, remember the different facets of Dr. Adenwalla’s personality through these cherished memories!

“Somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good… In my 22 year long association with Dr Adenwalla while I learnt from Sir how to be compassionate and also learnt the need to be bold and overcome any hurdles in the path to achieve one goals, there were also lighter moments too. And then his naughty sense of humor could be seen!

Once in his younger days at Coonoor, Dr. Adenwalla was out alone on his long walk. As usual, he wore a T-shirt and his khaki shorts. As he walked on, a car approached him and the occupants slowed down their vehicle, hoping to ask directions to their destination as they mistook Dr. Adenwalla for a local worker. He agreed to help these travellers, and even went along with them in their car to show them the way. They must have wondered how erudite this “local worker” was! On reaching their destination, they offered him ten rupees for his help, which he duly accepted and pocketed. Whenever Dr. Adenwalla told us this story, he would chuckle, and his eyes would sparkle with a smile. Such was his humility, and sense of humour!”

- Dr P. V. Narayanan, Plastic Surgeon and Smile Train Project Director, Charles Pinto Cleft Centre

“There was a notice board in the operation theatre complex, where every once in a while, Dr Adenwalla would put up some quote to inspire people around him. I will always remember one such quote shared by him, because to me, that quote describes Dr. Adenwalla’s soul:

"What if today, you gave yourself permission to be outrageously kind? What if you extend as much goodwill and kindness as you can possibly muster to every person you meet? And what if you did it with no thought of reward? I am sure of one thing: it will be a day you will never regret." - Steve Goodlier.

Kindness begets kindness is what I have learnt from him.

- Dr Mariam Koshi Thomas, Professor & H.O.D of Anaesthesia, Jubilee Mission Medical College

Charles Pinto team smiling
“I have had the privilege of knowing Dr. Adenwalla for the past 24 years. On his birth anniversary today, I would like to recollect the early days when I had joined the Jubilee Mission Hospital family in 1996 as a novice. The encouragement and support he extended towards me was unconditional. When the maxillofacial surgery department in our hospital was in its infancy, I was struggling to get an Operation Theatre to begin my surgical career, and he was kind enough to share his theatre table, which meant a lot to me.”

- Philip Mathew, Maxillofacial Surgeon

“It was in 2012 that I was asked by Dr. Adenwalla if I was interested in joining his team at the Charles Pinto Center as a consultant orthodontist. It was an easy decision to make, as I knew not everyone gets a chance to work closely with him! It was his dream to start an exclusive orthodontic clinic at the Charles Pinto Center, and I am grateful that he chose me to head this team. He always went out of his way to make things comfortable for me in the initial years of my practice. Every time I met him, I was awed by the way he handled his patients, his communication skills and also his sense of humor. There is no way one will leave his company without a smile on their face!

- Dr Jayakrishna Varma, Orthodontist

Dr Hirji Adenwalla smiling with a family
“If you speak to any senior member of families in Thrissur, there is always a relative who has been treated by Dr. Adenwalla. They often fondly mention the doctor in shorts who saved the life of someone in their family. Looking back at all the memories he has left behind, one quality about him deserves a special mention - his courage. It takes courage to leave a secure future in one’s own backyard with training opportunities that included stints in Johns Hopkins, to come to a strange town with no knowledge of the local language and no backup whatsoever. Dr. Adenwalla took such a risk to spread smiles in Thrissur, and for this, everyone here will forever look up to him!”

- Dr Vasanth Radhakrishnan, Maxillofacial Surgeon, Charles Pinto Cleft Centre

Dr Hirji Adenwalla smiling with Dr Varun Menon
An inspirational teacher, meticulous and ever encouraging…a true LEGEND! If there are novices amongst us I say to them that it is important to learn your cleft surgery from a man who knows his principles and then master a technique until you know it better than the back of your hand. Ultimately, when one first puts a knife to an infant’s skin, the responsibility is enormous, the training has to be outstanding, but rigorous, but look at the reward - creating smiles is a privilege!”

- Dr Varun Menon, Consultant Reconstructive Surgeon

These are loving memories by Smile Train partner doctors at The Charles Pinto Centre for Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies, Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, Thrissur.

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