By Dr. Tara Singh
Our community in New York as well as in the Caribbean, is very elated at learning that a distinguished son of the Caribbean, Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, Vijay Naraynsingh of Trinidad & Tobago, was honored by the prestigious American College of Surgeons (ACS) “Clinical Congress October 2019” at a colorful and memorable ceremony in Chicago, USA.
It was the very first time that an Indo-Caribbean was honored for exceptional professional service in the medical field and for related accomplishments by ACS.
Professor Vijay Naraynsingh is only the second Caribbean professional and scholar to have received this coveted recognition. To stand as a towering figure in the medical field, and to be duly recognized as such by one of the world’s leading medical-professional organizations, is truly remarkable. Professor Vijay Naraynsingh is undoubtedly first among his equals in the Caribbean in the medical profession.
While the honor bestowed upon him by ACS is perhaps the most prestigious of the numerous awards that Professor Naraynsingh has received over the past 30 years, he nevertheless values all of his accolades as these attest to his passion for medical research, medical work and science, professionalism, scholarship and humanitarianism.
Apart from his passion for academia and professionalism, Professor Naraynsingh plays a significant role in humanitarian causes. He founded the Avatar Medical Auxiliary which provides access for the underprivileged to medical and surgical care. To further this goal, on 7 separate occasions, he set up activities to provide 108 patients with free surgical treatment. He was also the Trinidad and Tobago Consultant surgeon for the Kids First program for underprivileged children in Guyana.
For more than 30 years Professor Naraynsingh has shared his secret of success with young students through youth groups, holding camps and illustrating study techniques for students from age 13-23 years. The most recent workshop recorded 300 attendees from over 20 schools and tertiary institutions. Additionally, he has rendered strong cultural support to the Prema Mandir in Kingston, Jamaica. He is a close friend and colleague to Dr Hame and Mrs Barbara Persaud. Professor Narayan has a pleasant personality and is easily approachable. Dr Hame Persaud describes him as “a man with a vision, a heart, and an intellect incomparable.”
Professor Naraynsingh’s curriculum vitae is massive; it literally comprises volumes. Only a few accomplishments can be stated here. Following graduation in Medicine in 1974 with medals and distinctions in Anatomy and Surgery, Professor Vijay Naraynsingh has had a distinguished career that led to Fellowships in several International Colleges, namely, Reader in Surgery (1990), Personal Chair (1997), and Departmental Chair (2002) at the University of the West Indies. He has served as President, Caribbean College of Surgeons since 2007 and was the Scientific Secretary of the Caribbean Health Research Council for 13 years. He is the recipient of awards from 36 organizations internationally, regionally and locally for his contributions to medicine, community service and humanitarian work.
At age 42, he was one of the youngest recipients of the National Award (The Chaconia Gold) for service in Medicine to Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003, Professor Naraynsingh was the first and only Caribbean Surgeon to be granted the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS England) without examination. He was also the first and only Caribbean Surgeon to be made an Examiner at the Royal College of Surgeons of England for their postgraduate surgical exams. In 1991, he was chosen by Medicine Sans Frontieres (Nobel laureate) to be one of five surgeons worldwide to sit on an international panel on colon trauma surgery (Brussels, Belgium). He was chosen as the surgeon to the Pope when John Paul II visited Trinidad and Tobago in 1985.
Internationally, Professor Naraynsingh has been a global pioneer in the design of 14 new operations.
These procedures have all been recorded in the international surgical literature and include, (i) the Lateral Approach to the Profunda Femoris Artery in 1984 – this technique facilitates bypass to the lower limb in complex cases, improving limb salvage; (ii) Rectus Repair for Abdominal Wall Hernias in 1993 – this effectively strengthens the abdominal wall preventing recurrent abdominal hernias; (iii) Transperitoneal Exclusion for Aortic Aneurysm in 1999 which addresses the management of abdominal aortic aneurysms; (iv) minilaparotomy ureterolithotomy in 2003 which facilitates ureteric stone removal using a minimally invasive technique; (v) Simple Repair (1998), (vi) Delayed Repair (2003) and (vii) Late Delayed Repair (2009) for Fractured Penis; (viii) Retrograde Thyroidectomy, and (ix) Swiss Roll Operation for Giant Fibroadenoma which involves removing giant breast growths.
Professor Naraynsingh is an educator, community leader, mentor, scholar, adviser, author and surgeon. He has taught and administered programs at The University of the West Indies for more than thirty-five years and started the postgraduate Surgical Specialties and Sub-specialties in Trinidad and Tobago. He is passionate about teaching and improving the quality of instruction, and his contribution to Surgery in the West Indies is unparalleled.
He has revised the surgery curriculum and radically changed the structure of the final MBBS examination five years ago.
Professor Naraynsingh has written in every major English-speaking surgical journal including the British Journal of Surgery, American Journal of Surgery, Archives of Surgery, World Journal of Surgery, Australian New Zealand Journal of Surgery, Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons, the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. He has delivered presentations on over 150 scientific platforms Internationally, regionally and locally including papers at the American College of Surgeons, the Mayo Clinic, the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, the Surgical Research Society (UK) and the Vascular Society of India. He has also published more than 100 abstracts.
His most recent awards include the Award for Excellence in Medicine and Community Service from GOPIO in August 2010, and the Award of Excellence for Exceptional Contributions to Educational Development, Medical and Community Service and Humanitarianism in the Caribbean by The Holi Sammelan Committee of New York, USA in September 2010.
Professor Vijay Naraynsingh is an outstanding Caribbean scientist, educator, researcher, and humanitarian worker. There is hardly anyone in the Caribbean in the medical field that can match his performance and accomplishments. These are staggering. We bow to this great man! We sincerely hope that others will follow in his noble pathway.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.